The Chinese currency has nearly reached 40% adoption across financial institutions worldwide, an 18% increase in yuan (RMB) usage over the past two years, with the strongest growth in occurring in the Americas, according to SWIFT’s monthly RMB Tracker released Thursday.

In February 2016, 1,131 banks used the yuan, also known as the Renminbi, for payments with China and Hong Kong, this represents 37% of all institutions exchanging payments with China and Hong Kong across all currencies. The majority of these institutions are located in Asia-Pacific (557), followed by Europe (376), the Americas (124) and then Africa and Middle East (74).

Compared with February 2014, the Americas saw the strongest growth at 31%, followed by 18% growth in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe grew almost as much at 17% and the Africa – Middle East region grew 12%.

“With almost 40% of international financial institutions facilitating yuan payments, it is clear that the Chinese currency is growing in its role as a global trade, investment, and reserve currency,” Vina Cheung, global head of RMB Internationalization, at HSBC, said in a written statement.

The SWIFT data also said that 24% of the offshore yuan payments done with China and Hong Kong are handled by Chinese banks with offshore branches and/or subsidiaries.

“As China continues to open up its currency, it makes sense that its global usage has increased in the last two years, including by US businesses,” Debra Lodge, head of RMB business development North America at HSBC Bank USA said in a written statement.

“More US companies are now confident in using Renminbi and have been effectively doing so for the benefit of their business.  We expect these volumes to increase as companies look to mitigate risk and reduce costs in areas such as the purchase of goods and inter-company payables,” she added.

As of February 2016, the yuan was the fifth-most-active currency for global payments by value with a share of 1.76%. This represents a decrease of 27.5% compared to January 2016. Payments across all currencies decreased in value by 1.3% during the same period.

The January-February decline was blamed on Chinese banks closing during the Lunar New Year in early February.

SWIFT is a Belgian-based provider of secure financial messaging services, connecting more than 11,000 banking and securities organizations, market infrastructures and corporate customers in more than 200 countries and territories. SWIFT’s network fully supports global RMB transactions.

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