Business / Markets

Renminbi payments surge between offshore centers: SWIFT

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-10-31 17:21

BEIJING - International payments using China's currency, the Renminbi (RMB), between offshore centers (excluding Hong Kong) have surged by 837 percent in value over the past two years, Belgium-based global payment services company SWIFT said late Thursday in a statement.

As a result, the share of RMB transactions in international payments between offshore trading centers increased to 3.25 percent in September, SWIFT's latest RMB Tracker showed.

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Hong Kong started offshore RMB trading in February 2004. It pioneered the offshore yuan business and has remained the biggest offshore RMB center.

In the past two years, European and Asian financial centers such as Singapore, Taipei, Seoul, London, Frankfurt, Paris and Luxembourg began offshore RMB business in order to capitalize on the rapid growth of offshore yuan-denominated trade and financial products.

Based on SWIFT's RMB Tracker, clearing centers such as Singapore, London and a newly-appointed German center in Frankfurt are driving true offshore use of the RMB.

SWIFT defines "true offshore international RMB payments" as transactions between RMB centers such as Singapore, London, Luxembourg and Frankfurt outside of China's mainland and Hong Kong.

Countries that are not normally among the top ten RMB trading centers are also fuelling the offshore trend. Belgium currently sits fourth for true offshore RMB international payments, SWIFT said.

Over the last nine months, SWIFT has noted significant growth in all RMB offshore centers, with Singapore holding a leading position at 574-percent growth, followed by Luxembourg (517 percent) and the United Kingdom (236 percent).

"Payments, FX and trade finance are the markers to watch for growth in RMB internationalization," said Alex Medana, Director of Asia Pacific Securities Markets at SWIFT.

The RMB is primarily used as a trade settlement currency, but it is worth noting that the RMB is steadily making progress as an investment currency, he said.

In the first nine months of 2014, 28 percent of securities settlement confirmations in RMB were done outside the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, compared to 16 percent during the same period two years ago, Medana said.

Overall, the RMB strengthened its position as the seventh-ranked global payments currency and accounted for 1.72 percent of global payments, an all-time record share, SWIFT data showed.

In September 2014, the value of RMB global payments increased by 13.2 percent, well above the average 8.1 percent growth for all currencies, it said.

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