The internationalisation of the renminbi has gathered pace, with Standard Chartered becoming the first foreign bank to complete a cross-border Rmb loan to Tianjin Eco-City (TEC).

The bank provided Rmb50mn to TEC-Keppel from its Singapore branch, as banks race to take advantage of the new rules which loosen the rules around cross-border lending and settling in Rmb.

TEC is a new urban settlement developed in collaboration between the governments of China and Singapore. Eventually, it is set to host 350,000 residents in an environmentally-friendly locale.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has recently liberalised the rules of trading Rmb into and out of China from a number of hubs, including the Shanghai Free Trade Zone and the TEC. In January, GTR reported that HSBC had taken advantage of the legislative change to transact cross-border through the Shanghai FTZ.

Trade financiers are expecting the PBOC’s shift in chance to be a game-changer for the currency (which recently became one of the five most common settling currencies in the world) and, by default, for regional trade.

Standard Chartered’s head of transaction banking in Singapore Motasim Iqbal tells GTR: “We see Rmb internationalisation as an integral part of China’s grand plan to ‘reform and open up’. Since 2009, great progresses have been made to liberalise Rmb for current accounts, such as trade settlement and Rmb overseas payments by Chinese tourists. As of November 2014, more than 22% of China’s trade was already denominated in Rmb.

“In the recent 12 months, we have reached the next stage of the Rmb journey – capital account liberalisations such as corporate cross-border liquidity management, investments in debit and capital markets, etc. These are giant leaps forward, to eventually make Rmb an international currency.”

The bank expects the Chinese currency one of the world’s top four by 2020, with 28% of international transactions denominated in Rmb.