Square Dots on Money

Grab a $10 polymer note. On the reverse of the banknote, you can find the word ‘Sports’ on the bottom-left corner of the note. However, you may notice a square dot or even two below this word, with a length of exactly 1 millimetre. Sorry, this does not work for paper notes!

Ten Dollar Square Dots

Notes with one square dot have been circulating since January 2008. Earlier this month, notes with two square dots entered circulation. If you have not seen them, try withdrawing from selected Automated Teller Machines (ATM). Many collectors remain puzzled about the presence of these dots.

Similarly, if you have $2 polymer notes, there may be a single square dot located below the word ‘Education’ located on the reverse. Every note in a stack of 100 mint banknotes obtained from the bank has the same number of square dots, if any.

According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), this is a new security feature which has been introduced recently for the Central Bank to authenticate the note and is not meant for public knowledge. In addition, there may be other shapes, such as circles, stars or triangles.

In my opinion, the serial number may play a part in determining the pattern found on the note. Just like having a suffix after an NRIC number (which can be calculated from the prefix and number) or the last alphabet of a car registration plate (which can be also calculated from the prefix and number), the pattern may be derived from the serial number. However, a larger sample of serial numbers and their corresponding patterns are required to confirm this hypothesis. Each batch of banknotes may have a different pattern.

However, it appears that the prefix alone does not play a part in the pattern. I have two notes with the same prefix but with a different pattern. The note with serial number starting 2GN117 has one dot, while another note with serial number starting 2GN537 has two dots.

These new polymer notes are printed by Orell Füssli Zurich (OFZ), Switzerland.

8 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    One correction : Dots also have appeared on paper banknotes. $100 and $1000 banknotes have been released with Goh Chok Tong’s signature and MAS imprint.

  2. Aidan Work
    Aidan Work says:

    Wei Jie,
    The banknote & coin cataloguers in both Malaysia & Singapore will have a real field day to catalogue all these new & previously unreported banknote varieties.

    The team at Krause Publications needs to be given a huge wake-up,as there are a lot of notes from the Malay states,plus the Straits Settlements & the Sungei Buloh Settlement leprosarium that aren’t even listed in the Pick catalogues at all.

    Do you agree with me on this?

    Aidan.

  3. David Lee
    David Lee says:

    I have an even stranger $10 polymer note.

    It was signed by Lee Hsien Loong, without any dots on the back. On top of it, there are a couple of subtle differences, the colour of the “10” in the middle is purplish instead of the usual brown, and the serial number stating with “8AA8…” has first 3 digits/alphabet of the same font and starts increasing from the 4th, which is different from the usual where the first 4 digits/alphabet all have the same font.

  4. Wei Jie
    Wei Jie says:

    David Lee: That’s the 2004 trial issue for polymer notes. Only 10 million notes were printed in this issue signed by then MAS Chairman Lee Hsien Loong. The colour of the denomination is different because of technology limitations at that point in time, in terms of producing polymer banknotes.

  5. The
    The says:

    I was curious after reading this article. At first I thought you were referring to the Braille dots. They are still there — two round dots on the obverse side of the note.

    So I took out the pieces of $10 notes in my wallet, and lo and behold, on the reverse side, this is what I found — some with no dots, some with one triangular dot, some with two triangular dots, some with one square dot and some with two square dots.

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