The RMB overtook the JPY in global payments

The RMB’s share of global payments hit a record high in November, making it the fourth most widely used currency for the first time since early 2022, according to transaction data compiled by Swift, a global financial information service.

RMB’s share of global payment transactions rose to 4.6 % in November, up from 3.6 % in October, overtaking the Japanese yen’s 3.4 % and setting a record high for RMB, which last ranked fourth in January 2022.The dollar retained its lead in November with a 47 % share, followed by the euro and the British pound at 23 % and 7.15 %, respectively.

While individually the top three currencies (the dollar, euro and sterling) and the yen did not see much change in their shares, together they fell by more than 1 percentage point.

On a year-on-year comparison, the latest data shows that RMB’s share of global payments has almost doubled compared to November 2022, when it stood at 2.37%.

Swift says 80% of offshore RMB transactions (excluding mainland China) are routed through Hong Kong. Other major offshore trading centres for RMB include the UK, Singapore and the U.S. The currency’s share of global trade finance was 5.7% in November, well below the U.S. dollar but above the euro.

While Swift’s data does not cover the entire global foreign exchange market, the report provides a window into the changing nature of global foreign exchange flows. While the US dollar has dominated as the global reserve currency since Swift began tracking payments, the share of RMB use has steadily increased from less than 0.1 % in 2010.

The backdrop to the steady increase in RMB’s share of global payments is China’s efforts to promote RMB internationalisation in an effort to break the US dollar’s global hegemony.

Last month, RMB’s share of total cross-border lending jumped to 28 %, while China’s central bank has now signed more than 30 bilateral currency swap agreements with foreign central banks such as Saudi Arabia’s central bank and Argentina’s central bank.

Separately, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said this week that more than 90 % of trade between Russia and China is settled in RMB or rubles, according to Russia’s official news agency TASS.