Yuan now third most traded currency on EBS platform

LONDON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - China’s currency is now the third most traded on the EBS platform, overtaking such pairs as the dollar-Swiss franc and euro-yen on one of the main independent venues where banks trade currencies.

Officials at ICAP-owned EBS Brokertec, which competes with Thomson Reuters’ Matching platform in bank-to-bank currency trading, said the number of players trading every day in China’s yuan, or renminbi, had grown 50 percent in the past year.

That follows the announcement by the banking payment network SWIFT that the yuan is now the fourth most used currency in ordinary day-to-day payments worldwide.

“We have seen the number of counterparties who are trading spot CNH increase by 50 percent on a daily basis over the past year,” said Jessica Roberts, head of strategic currencies at EBS in London.

“It is now the third most traded currency on EBS, although it is still some way behind the euro and yen (dollar pairs).”

China made a fresh push at International Monetary Fund meetings earlier this month for the yuan to be included in the fund’s benchmark currency basket, arguing that recent reforms put it closer to qualifying.

Sources told Reuters on Wednesday that the onshore market in yuan would “soon” extend its trading hours to 11:30 p.m. (1530 GMT) to overlap with European trading hours, supporting the case for adding it to the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket.

International critics, particularly in the United States, have argued that the controls Beijing maintains on flows of capital in and out of China mean it is still far from qualifying.

Asked if the yuan should be regarded as “fully convertible”, the key question under IMF rules for including it in the basket, EBS’s head of markets, Darryl Hooker, said: “We see it as operating, transparent and deep enough to trade across a 24-hour period. We really regard it now as a major currency.”

But he also added: “One reason why the yuan may not be included in the SDR would be the credit constraints on the Chinese banks. You do have these growth challenges show up from time to time. Chinese banks may need ISDAs with international banks, as they need to establish relationships with counterparties.”

Hooker also raised the prospect of a swifter inclusion of the offshore yuan market in the currency settlement bank CLS, used by all of the major foreign exchange markets to remove the risk that a party will fail after agreeing an over-the-counter currency trade but before settling with its counterparty a day or two later.

“Moving into CLS naturally has a huge impact on the trading volume in a currency. It clearly is a barrier just now,” he said.

“CLS eligibility could be achieved by the PBOC within 3-3-1/2 years. If it was mandated instead to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to carry out this process (for the CNH) then it could be done in half that time, probably in 18 months.” (Editing by Larry King)