RMB Adoption Accelerates Beyond Hong Kong

Hong Kong still takes the lion’s share handling global payments in Chinese renminbi (RMB), with over 70% of the market by value, reports SWIFT.

However, the financial messaging services provider adds that over the past two years, an additional set of countries have given chase, gradually increasing their share to 25% in February 2015 compared to 17% in February 2013.

Singapore and London, which are strong financial centres in their respective regions, played a key role in driving RMB adoption outside of Hong Kong. In the last few months, there has also been acceleration in RMB usage with the emergence of other offshore RMB clearing centres worldwide, including several countries outside of Asia Pacific.

These additional clearing centres include Bangkok, Doha, Frankfurt, Kuala Lumpur, Luxembourg, Paris, Seoul, Toronto and more recently Sydney. They represent the largest share of offshore countries, excluding Hong Kong, using RMB for payments.

“The use of RMB by more countries, beyond Hong Kong, is a good testimony of the internationalisation of the Chinese currency”, says Michael Moon, head of payments Asia Pacific at SWIFT.

“The global volume of payments in RMB will fluctuate, and is actually down by value compared to last month, but the broader support by more countries beyond Hong Kong, underlining its international use, suggests the potential for future clearing centres and further development of the currency”.

In February 2015, the RMB actually fell back to seventh position as world payments currency, from fifth in January, with a share of 1.81%. This represents a decrease of 20.4% compared to last month, which is likely due to the seasonal effect of the Chinese New Year. Payments across all currencies decreased in value by 9.3% in that same period. The overall negative trend may be due to February being a shorter month.

SWIFT RMB Internationalisation fig 1
 SWIFT RMB Internationalisation fig2


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