Business / Markets

More European firms favor renminbi for transactions

By Diao Ying in London (China Daily) Updated: 2012-10-24 09:40

The renminbi is becoming more popular in international transactions as companies in Europe benefit from using the Chinese currency, according to a survey by Deutsche Bank.

Around 20 percent of the surveyed companies in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands carry out invoicing in the Chinese currency, and the remaining 80 percent said they are considering doing so.

Using the renminbi helps companies reduce costs and obtain access to more business partners in China.

When companies use the Chinese currency, they can lower prices by an average of 4.8 percent when negotiating with Chinese partners, according to the survey.

Switching to the currency means more benefits for small and medium-sized companies, according to Nils Ole Matthiessen, Deutsche Bank's head of global finance and foreign exchange.

He added that SMEs will have a wider network of suppliers and partners in China after switching to the renminbi, because they can do business with Chinese companies who previously had limited access to Western currencies.

Brembo, the Italian car brake manufacturer that supplies brakes to car companies such as Ferrari and Lamborghini, recently opened a renminbi account for transactions with its Chinese operations.

"As we expand our business in China, managing cash flows and associated FX exposure is critical to drive growth," said Giancario Cicuttini, global treasurer of Brembo.

The survey said that banks in London are also expanding renminbi transactions in other emerging markets as business grows between China and Africa. In South Africa, the Chinese currency accounted for around 10 percent of total payments in July, compared with 6 percent in January.

Citibank recently revealed its renminbi transactions generated out of London had increased by 40 percent since the beginning of the year, and the number of renminbi accounts opened in the UK had risen by more than 80 percent.

"Our renminbi offering is making significant progress across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and we are keen to leverage the breadth of Citi's network to expand our RMB solutions throughout the region," said Rajesh Mehta, Citi's regional head of treasury and trade solutions for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Citi now offers a renminbi service in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon and Zambia.

The use of the renminbi in trade outside China is around $2 billion a day. Cross-border renminbi processing volume rose 42 percent year-on-year to 1.4 trillion yuan ($222 billion) in the first half of this year, according to Deutsche Bank.

But companies still face challenges using the Chinese currency. The greatest obstacles are the slow payment process and difficulties in obtaining approval for payments from the authorities, according to the survey.

Banks are currently required to physically check the documentary proof of each underlying trade transaction before they can process a renminbi payment on behalf of their corporate clients, which can be a slow process.

The situation may get better as the authorities improve their policies. The People's Bank of China, the nation's central bank, introduced a pilot project in June to simplify the cross-border renminbi payment process.

The project allows certain China-based companies to invoice and settle cross-border trades in renminbi without having to provide documentation for pre-trade verification.

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks