The People's Bank of China (PBOC) continues to focus on expanding use of the renminbi around the world, and the bank's efforts are paying off. SWIFT announced this morning that the Chinese currency has overtaken the Canadian and Australian dollars to become the fifth-most-used currency for global payments, as measured by transaction value.

It's been a meteoric rise. Two years ago, 0.63 percent of global payments were denominated in renminbi (RMB), putting the currency in 13th position. By December 2014, the RMB accounted for 2.17 percent of all global payments by value. Only the U.S. dollar (44.64 percent of global payments), euro (28.3 percent), British pound (7.92 percent), and Japanese yen (2.69 percent) account for more.

"The RMB breaking into the top five world payments currencies is an important milestone," says Wim Raymaekers, head of banking markets for SWIFT. "It is a great testimony to the internationalization of the RMB."

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