SWIFT released its tracker late last week, five years after the company first began publishing the report. In that time, SWIFT noted, the RMB has seen a steady incline in its use for payments worldwide, as well as in trade finance. But researchers first discovered a decline in the use of RMB in trade finance in 2014.
In 2013, the Chinese currency sat at the number-two spot, holding 8.66 percent of the total value of trade finance. Today, however, that value has slipped to 4.61 percent, researchers said.
“The general slowdown of the Chinese and world economies over the past few years has impacted global trade growth across all currencies, not just the RMB,” explained SWIFT Head of Payments Markets in Asia-Pacific Michael Moon in a statement. “For example, commodities trade growth has been declining as evidenced by the reduction of documentary trade.”
“On a positive note,” he continued, “the inclusion of the RMB in the Special Drawing Right basket should generate further trust and confidence in the RMB currency and support further RMB internationalization.”
Despite a decline in popularity in the trade finance world, the RMB has pushed its way onto the international stage as Chinese regulators promote its use. The efforts were succeeding: Two years ago, researchers at SWIFT saw a significant spike in the use of RMB for international payments.
This year, however, SWIFT found that the RMB has declined to number six on the rankings of currencies used for international payments; the RMB now accounts for 1.67 percent of all international payments, researchers said.