The Malaysian Ringgit is the national currency of Malaysia. Formerly known as the Malaysian Dollar, it is officially abbreviated to RM (Ringgit Malaysia) and has the currency code of MYR to avoid confusion with other currencies like from Brunei and Singapore, which in Malay language, the currencies for those countries are also referred to as ringgit. Bank Negra Malyasia is responsible for issuing ringgit.
A ringgit is divided into 100 sens (cents). Ringgit means “jagged” in Malay because it used to refer to the serrated edges of silver Spanish dollar which were issued in the 16th and 17th century, during the Portuguese Colonial Era.
In 1963, the Federation of Malaysia was established – 18 years after the surrender of Japan to the country. During 1967, the new central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia issued the Malaysian dollar (M$) which replaced the Malaya and British Borneo dollar at par. The Malaysian dollar denominations are similar to the Malaya and British Borneo dollar.
Finally in August 1975, the Malay words ringgit and sens were adopted officially as the names to be used in the currency. However, in other parts of the country, some people still continue to refer the currency as dollars and cents. Coin denominations for the Malaysian Ringgit are 1 sen, 5 sen, 10 sen, 20 sen, 50 sen, and 1 ringgit. For banknotes, they are of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 denominations.
Introduced in 1986 were currency controls that stabilized the economy and minimized speculation. It was only during the 1990’s that the Malaysian dollar sign “M$” was replaced by Ringgit Malaysia “RM”.
From 1997 to 1998, the ringgit lost almost half of its value to the US dollars due to currency fluctuation. Moreover, from 2001 to 2005, it suffered from depreciation against other currencies. Malaysia rescinded with pegging the ringgit to the US Dollars for 7 years. This is to minimize or totally prevent speculations by currency traders.
The exchange rate of Malaysian Ringgit to U.S. Dollars as of February 23, 2011 is: 1.00 Malaysian Ringgit = 0.3279 U.S. Dollar