London sees renminbi transactions take off
Updated: 2014-01-18 02:44
By CECILY LIU in London (China Daily)
Rapidly rising renminbi transaction volumes are supporting London's ambition of becoming the Western world's offshore yuan center, according to figures released on Thursday by the City of London Corp.
Trade finance transactions using the Chinese currency totaled 27.94 billion yuan ($4.61 billion) in the first half of 2013, up from 13.8 billion yuan a year earlier.
Daily average trading volume of renminbi-related foreign exchange products expanded to $22.3 billion, up from $11.6 billion.
"Over the past few years, we're been delighted to see the use of the renminbi in the United Kingdom, and indeed globally, develop," said Mark Boleat, policy chairman at the City of London.
Boleat said his team has been working with private-sector banks in an initiative launched in April 2012 to make renminbi trade processing easier for European businesses and offer companies and investors the opportunity to trade, invest and bank in renminbi in London.
The initiative, which now involves 13 member banks in London, has been a key driver in London's development as an offshore renminbi market, which was welcomed by then Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan in September 2011.
Since then, many new products and services denominated in renminbi have been launched in London.
More recent examples of progress in 2014 include Bank of China Ltd issuing a renminbi bond in London and investment management firm Ashmore Group becoming the first London-based entity to gain a renminbi qualified foreign institutional investor license to enter China's domestic securities market.
London's banks are also experiencing fast growth in corporate demand for renminbi-denominated trade transactions.
"The confidence in clients in utilizing and trading in renminbi has increased probably 200 percent since we started this initiative. So we've seen clients actually wanting to trade in renminbi and invoice in renminbi," said Sonia Rossetti, managing director of Europe head product management at Standard Chartered Plc.
Fang Wenjian, general manager of Bank of China's London branch, said there has been strong growth in renminbi trade finance and foreign exchange dealings. The bank has also seen a growing corporate willingness to hold renminbi deposits this year.
Fang said that renminbi-related transactions still have great potential in the capital markets, the fixed income market in particular. "If we continue to support the market with more products and education, the trend will go further," he said.
Despite London's rapid growth in renminbi-related activities, the city also faces challenges in building up volume faster. There's still a lack of awareness and understanding of renminbi transactions among many companies and investors, according to some London bankers.
"One of the problems we've found is that some fund managing companies or investors still haven't given enough allocations to renminbi assets. As they understand more and more about the renminbi and about China, we will become more successful in increasing volumes," Fang said.
Rossetti said that any such reluctance probably reflects the pace of change in new renminbi products and regulations.
"When you talk to a number of companies, they want to understand what implications may there be for them," Rossetti said.