Market volatility sees Chinese yuan surpass Japanese yen in global trade

October 6, 2015, 4:48 PM UTC
China Scraps Yuan Peg To US dollar
A clerk counts stacks of Chinese yuan at a bank on July 22, 2005 in Beijing, China.
Photograph by China Photos/Getty Images

In August, the Chinese yuan moved ahead of Japan’s yen in Swift’s list of the most-used global currencies for the first time, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Swift, the international payment provider, added that the yuan was number 12 on the list just three years ago. Now it sits at number 4 behind the U.S. dollar, the euro, and the British pound. This surge in relevance was likely triggered by the devaluation of the yuan by the country’s central bank, which generated volatility in the Chinese economy.

In August, the yuan was used in 2.8% of global payments, up from just 0.84% in August 2012. It’s still quite far behind the top three global currencies. The USD was used in 44.8% of global payments, the euro in 27.2%, and the British pound in 8.5%.

The number of foreign exchange trades involving the yuan surpassed 1 million for the first time in a single month in August, rising by 20% from the previous month and a massive 50% from the previous year.

Chinese officials have been trying to expand the significance of the yuan’s role in the global market, and Beijing has tried to convince the International Monetary Fund to declare it an official reserve currency.

Currently over 1,000 banks in 100 countries are able to use the yuan to make payments in China and Hong Kong, which is 20% more than it was just 2 years ago.