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International Finance

Yuan’s Popularity for Global Payments Hits Highest in Six Years

Chinese one-hundred yuan banknotes are arranged for a photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, April 23, 2020. The People's Bank of China (PBOC) has cut short- and medium-term rates recently on top of liquidity injections, loan rollovers and easier regulatory rules. Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

The Chinese yuan reasserted itself as one of the most-popular currencies for cross-border payments, notching the fourth spot for the first time since August 2015. 

Activity in the renminbi, as the currency is also called, rose to its second-highest level ever, according to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications. While the Chinese currency made inroads in the rankings, the yuan accounted for about 2.7% of the market versus the dollar at 41%, and has held the top slot since June.

The yuan has seen its popularity as an international currency steadily climb in the last decade. Global funds boosted holdings of Chinese government bonds to a record last month, data show. The renminbi was ranked 35th in October 2010 when Swift, which handles cross-border payment messages for more than 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries, started tracking.

Gaining Ground

The euro held its second-place ranking for a seventh month, but its total market share fell to an eight-month low at 37%. The pound followed in third, a spot it’s held since 2011, while the yen rounded out the top five.

Current Rank Currency Dec. 2021 Nov. Oct.
1 USD 40.51% 39.16% 39.16%
2 EUR 36.65% 37.66% 38.07%
3 GBP 5.89% 6.72% 6.41%
4 CNY 2.70% 2.14% 1.85%
5 JPY 2.58% 2.58% 2.90%

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