The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar are the most active Middle East countries using the RMB for direct payments with mainland China and Hong Kong, according to recent data released by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).
In 2015, the UAE’s use of the RMB accounted for 74% of payments by value to mainland China and Hong Kong, an increase of 52% compared to 2014.
In Qatar, the RMB was used for 60% of all payments, a huge rise of 247% compared to 2014.
However, looking at all cross-border flows worldwide, SWIFT data reveals that the majority of payments between these Gulf States and mainland China/Hong Kong are in U.S. dollar.
They are also intermediated mainly by U.S. dollar clearing banks, indicating great potential for the RMB’s increased usage in the region.
"Use of the RMB has been rising across the Middle East region over the last few years. Adoption has been supported by developments such as the establishment of an RMB clearing center in Qatar last year, the first in the Middle East, and (plans to) set up RMB clearing arrangements in the UAE," says Sido Bestani, head of Middle East, Turkey and Africa at SWIFT.
These and similar efforts will continue to drive RMB adoption across the region, adds Bestani.
In December 2015, the RMB remained stable in its position as the fifth most active currency for global payments by value and accounted for 2.31% of global payments, compared to 2.28% in November 2015.
Overall, RMB payments value increased by 15.92% compared to November 2015, whilst in general all payments currencies increased by 14.43%, according to SWIFT data.