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Awards / Treasury & Capital Markets
Treasurise Awards 2024: Driving renminbi internationalization
Banks, governments, multinationals expand use of currency across multiple markets
The Asset 11 Apr 2024

Renminbi has made another landmark move towards internationalization in 2023 as the world economy experiences a prolonged high-interest cycle and geopolitical uncertainties. Corporate CFOs and treasurers are increasingly using the renminbi in their international trade finance activities, cross-border settlements and exchange risk hedging. Banks are also strengthening their renminbi businesses overseas to satisfy the growing needs of their clients.

Two of the major transaction settlement networks – the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) and its Chinese counterpart, the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) – have both recorded a strong increase in renminbi use in the global market over the past year.

Swift’s data show that the renminbi has become the fourth-most active currency for global payments by value in February 2024. In addition, CIPS shows the renminbi has achieved an annual business volume of 123 trillion yuan (US$17 trillion), almost triple that of three years ago.

Both governments and multinational corporations are embracing renminbi in trade activities. The governments of Brazil and Argentina, for example, agreed to use renminbi through CIPS as the settlement currency in trading with China in early 2023. These ground-breaking agreements, according to China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchanges, have enabled the use of the renminbi in the country’s cross-border payments to surpass that of the US dollar for the first time in March 2023.

Chinese corporations going overseas are also contributing to the increased use of renminbi across the globe. Private players in new economy sectors like electric vehicles and renewable energy – in addition to traditional state-owned enterprises, which continue to dominate the commodities trading and infrastructure construction sectors – are also boosting renminbi internationalization via their supply chain and sales networks that are expanding across Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

On the investment horizon, investors are also tapping the opportunities available via renminbi financing cost-differentials with the US dollar, as exemplified by the boom in the panda and dim sum bond markets. In 2023, their annual issuance exceeded 150 billion yuan and 600 billion yuan, respectively, breaking the record from the previous year, according to data from Bloomberg and Fidelity International. Meanwhile, as China further opens its capital markets, the liquidity and depth of the international renminbi financing will expand further. 

Last but not least, the development of the digital renminbi or e-CNY has added another dimension to the renminbi’s internationalization efforts. PetroChina’s completion of the first-ever international crude oil trade deal of 1 million barrels in e-CNY in October 2023 showcased the progress China has made on the global stage with its central bank digital currency scheme, highlighting the potential for e-CNY to revolutionize international transactions.

Importantly, the renminbi – though still behind major currencies like the US dollar and euro – has the potential to further establish itself as a key player in the international monetary system as China is committed to significantly advancing its use internationally by fostering increased cooperation with global partners.

As part of The Asset’s Treasurise Awards 2024, it is pleased to reveal the list of banks that have most successfully expanded the renminbi’s usage across multiple markets.    

To see the full list of Best Renminbi Bank winners by market, click here.

To learn more about these awards, click here.

To join the in-person annual celebratory dinner on May 14 in Hong Kong, please contact us at celebrate@theasset.com.

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