Sibos Blog: HK still premier offshore renminbi centre, says Swift, as RMB set to dominate Sibos 2012

By Neil Ainger | 22 October 2012

Hong Kong remains the world’s largest offshore renminbi (RMB) payments centres, says Swift in its latest update of the volumes flowing across its systems, but London has overtaken Singapore as the second largest centre. Hong Kong still processed 80% of all RMB payments in total, however, making it by far the most significant hub for offshore RMB.

Almost 100 countries had RMB payments with Hong Kong and China in September 2012, the latest month for which Swift’s RMB Tracker figures are available, but the majority of interactions concern just ten countries with 90% of the volumes emanating from them, including the UK, Singapore, US, Germany and other significant hubs.

Outside of HK and China, the leading international centre was London garnering a 28% of the market, against Singapore’s 26%. This is a significant decline from the 34% of the non-HK market that Singapore had at the start of the year and suggests London’s efforts to win a large slice of the RMB business, which included a visit from the UK Chancellor George Osborne earlier this year, are beginning to pay off.

Overall, RMB payments declined by 7.4% compared to August 2012, whereas all currencies declined by 4.3%. The RMB remains in 14th position in the ranks of world payments currencies, with a share of 0.51% against 0.53% in August 2012, reflecting its still relatively small role on the global financial markets. This will, of course, slowly change as RMB liberalisation measures increase over the coming years.

RMB is likely to be one of the most talked about subjects at Swift’s upcoming Sibos 2012 trade show in Japan, starting at the end of this month. The gathering of banks, technology vendors, some corporates and other players on the global financial markets will no doubt be examining the rise of China and its currency in detail, especially considering the Asian venue for this year’s show in Osaka.

Some of the key sessions due to examine the rise of the RMB at Sibos 2012 include:

• RMB internationalisation – what does it mean for corporate treasurers? on Tuesday 30 October 11:15-12:15 at the Hyatt Room 2.

• Let's get practical – Best practices for renminbi implementation on Wednesday 31 October 16:00- 16:45 in the Standards forum.

• Global transaction banking – In need of business insights on Thursday 1 November 11:00 -12:00 Conference room 2

• Are we moving toward a currency war? on Thursday, 1 November 14:00-15:00 in conference room 1.

The latter is an especially topical subject matter, considering the US Presidential elections have featured much debate about China’s alleged ‘manipulation’ of its currency and any possible retaliation, which is bound to elicit a Chinese response. Watch this space at Sibos 2012 if you want to see some lively debates.

By Neil Ainger

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