Yuan overtakes ruble as world payments currency

For the first time, China’s yuan has overtaken the Russian ruble for transactions in the global payment system, according to Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a financial messaging platform.

The use of the yuan increased 24% in January from December, while that of the ruble declined 5.4%, the Belgium-based SWIFT said in a report today. The Chinese currency accounted for an all-time high of 0.63% of the global payments, making it the 13th most-used currency, compared with 0.56% for the ruble, now the 15th most-used.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, is promoting the role of the yuan, also known as RMB, in international trading and financing as it moves to reduce the control over its currency and open up its financial markets. Trading of the yuan outside the mainland has at least doubled to $6 billion a day from a year earlier, said Charles Feng, regional head for fixed- income trading at Standard Chartered Plc. in Hong Kong, last month.

“The RMB continues its ascension towards becoming a major international payments currency,” SWIFT said in the report. Offshore financial centers such as Hong Kong, London and Singapore fuel the growth of the yuan payments, Lisa O’Connor, global yuan director at SWIFT, said in the report.

In December, the yuan payments exceeded those of the Danish krone, South African rand and New Zealand dollar, according to the report.

The use of the yuan rose 171% last month from a year earlier, while the ruble’s volume increased 18%, according to the report.

SWIFT provides services to more than 10,000 banks, financial institutions and companies in 212 countries, according to its Website.

Bloomberg News

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