HONG KONG Citi (C.N) said on Monday it had launched an automated RMB cross-border pooling solution for its clients in the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone, a move that could help multinational companies optimize their cash management and enhance capital efficiency.
The solution enables companies to automatically sweep RMB between their onshore and offshore entities freely, without providing supporting documents or applying for approvals on a deal basis.
Citi's cross-border yuan sweeping solution was pioneered for Roche, a leading European pharmaceutical company, which marks an important step in the ongoing financial development in the free trade zone.
"We are using state-of-the-art global concentration platforms to address clients' local and cross-border RMB needs, enabling them to capitalize on opportunities that evolving regulatory reforms bring," Amol Gupte, Citi's Asia Pacific head of Treasury and Trade Solutions, said in a statement.
China launched the Shanghai free trade zone in late September and officials promised a far more open and streamlined environment for foreign firms to do business there, along with the relaxation of policies for a raft of service sectors.
A batch of banks including Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), Citibank, DBS (DBSM.SI), Hang Seng Bank (0011.HK), HSBC (0005.HK) and Bank of East Asia (0023.HK) have received approvals to start operations in the pilot zone.
HSBC said last week it had offered cross-border RMB sweeping service for Dover, a manufacturer of diversified industrial products, to help it deploy funds more efficiently between its overseas and domestic affiliates.
Beijing is stepping up efforts to open up domestic financial markets and lift the global status of its currency, aiming to reduce its reliance on the U.S. dollar as the world's second-largest economy.
With a slew of policies introduced to promote the "redback", the yuan already overtook the euro to become the second-most used currency in trade finance, data from global transaction services organization SWIFT showed.
The pace is expected to accelerate. Shanghai Vice Mayor Tu Guangshao said at a financial forum last week that the central bank would roll out detailed policies to develop the free trade zone in the first quarter and material development is expected this year.
(Reporting by Michelle Chen; Editing by Kim Coghill)