HONG KONG, March 25 (Reuters) - Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) , the world’s largest bank by assets, said on Tuesday it has been approved by National Bank of Cambodia as a clearing bank for the Chinese yuan currency in the country.
It marks an incremental step to accelerate the yuan internationalisation process and to expand China’s offshore yuan business beyond Hong Kong, where more than 80 percent of yuan trade settlement transactions are handled.
ICBC said in a statement its Phnom Penh branch will provide comprehensive yuan clearing services, including renminbi account management, interbank clearing, cross-border clearing and liquditity support.
Cambodia is the third country which has granted ICBC --China’s top lender-- as a yuan clearing bank, following Singapore and Laos.
Beijing is stepping up efforts to promote the wider use of its currency and reduce reliance on the U.S. dollar. Its efforts have paid dividends with the yuan already overtaking the euro to become the second-most used currency in trade finance.
Over the past three years, the “redback” has also overtaken 22 currencies, most recently the Singapore dollar, the Hong Kong dollar and the Swiss Franc, to become the seventh most-used world payments currency in January, according to SWIFT.
ICBC said it has handled nearly 5 trillion yuan ($807.91 billion) worth of cross-border yuan transactions since 2009 and in 2013 alone, the transactions exceeded 2.1 trillion yuan. ($1 = 6.1888 Chinese Yuan) (Reporting by Michelle Chen; Editing by Kim Coghill)