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Yuan pips yen to become fourth global payments currency

The Chinese renminbi has become the fourth most-used payments currency by value, as of August 2015, according to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (Swift). The currency now has a 2.79% share of global payments by value and has overtaken the Japanese yen to take fourth place, after the US dollar, euro and sterling.

The increasing use of renminbi as a global payments currency has come at a time of severe volatility for the currency and slowing growth in the Chinese economy. In January 2014, renminbi was the seventh most-used global payments currency, with a 1.39% share of the total. Since then, it has leap-frogged the Canadian dollar and Australian dollar, as well as yen, to gain fourth place. It's worth noting that the yen's share of the global payments currency market in fact increased during the same period (from 2.5% to 2.76%), although this was not enough for it to maintain its position ahead of renminbi.

As of August 2015, US dollar and euro maintain an established majority, with 45% and 27% respectively, while use of sterling as a global payment currency dropped slightly from 9.37% in January 2014, to 8.45% in August 2015.

The renminbi is also the dominant currency for trade finance behind the US dollar.

More than 100 countries used RMB for payments, as of August 2015, according to Swift. Its RMB Tracker report notes that the rise of the renminbi as an international currency is being fuelled by clearing centres outside China and Hong Kong. While Singapore and London are the two main offshore renminbi clearing centres, others such as Taiwan are accelerating the use of renminbi in global payments. According to Swift, Hong Kong is the world’s largest offshore RMB centre, processing 70.4% of RMB payments, followed by Singapore and London, which process 24.4% and 21.6% respectively.

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