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The new notes will be available for withdrawal from Jan 25. Pre-orders will open a week earlier, on Jan 18. — TODAY pic
The new notes will be available for withdrawal from Jan 25. Pre-orders will open a week earlier, on Jan 18. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Jan 11 — Those who wish to withdraw new bank notes for gifting during the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations will have to make online reservations before collecting them at branches, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Monday (Jan 11).

The new measure is aimed at reducing queues and facilitating safe distancing measures at bank branches amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move comes a month ahead of the Chinese New Year celebrations, where many practice the tradition of gifting money in ‘hongbaos’, or red packets. Some prefer to use new bank notes for this purpose.It will apply at all three local banks: DBS Bank, OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank. 

Those aged 60 and above and persons with disabilities will not be required to make bookings, but are encouraged to do so, MAS said in a statement. 

DBS Bank customers will be able to withdraw fresh bank notes at its pop-up automated-teller machines (ATM) without making reservations. 

The new notes will be available for withdrawal from Jan 25. Pre-orders will open a week earlier, on Jan 18.Maybank and Standard Chartered bank will also be offering pre-orders of new notes.

But this practice demands the printing of a large number of new notes every year, many of which get returned to the banks after the celebrations anyway, MAS said.The carbon emission generated from producing new notes every Chinese New Year is estimated to be 330 tonnes — the equivalent of charging 5.7 million smartphones — said Bernard Wee, MAS’ assistant managing director of finance, risk and currency. 

Instead, MAS is hoping to push this practice online by encouraging people to use electronic forms of hongbaos this year.

The regulator is encouraging firms to develop e-gifting solutions and is offering special recognition to the most innovative solution at the Singapore FinTech Festival in November.

“The adoption of e-payments grew significantly this past year as it is more convenient than cash,” Wee said. “The coming Lunar New Year offers an opportunity for us to build on this momentum, to spread the benefits of e-gifting, and to forge new traditions with our families and friends.” — TODAY


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