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Early Chinese currency dates back to the 4th century. During this time bronze coins with round holes in the centre were used and kept on string. When the first Emperor of China Shi Huangdi came to power a century later the hole in the centre of each coin was changed to a square. Chinese currency remained this way for the next two thousand years.
During the five Dynasties period around 910 AD China used paper money which impressed the famous explorer Marco Polo.
The Chinese Yuan was introduced in 1889, it was a silver coin that had been derived from the Spanish dollar. It placed all copper and silver coins currently in circulation. Paper yuan banknotes were also issued.
In 1948 the Chinese yuan or renminbi was issued by the Chinese Communist party people’s Bank of China. This new currency translates as “the people’s currency”. However high inflation during 1955 led to the renminbi being replaced by a second series of yuan. 10,000 of the old yuan was equal to 1 new yuan. This helped to stabilize China’s economy.
In August 2015 the Chinese yuan became the fourth most popular currency used for international payments following the US dollar, the euro, and the British pound. It has become Asia’s leading currency used on the SWIFT network and accounts for 2.79% of global payments.
It still has some way to go to become the leading international currency as the US dollar makes up a staggering 44.82% of all global payments made on the SWIFT network (figures based on August 2015).
The Chinese Yuan Renminbi is the official currency of China. The ISO 4217 currency code for the Chinese Yuan Renminbi is CNY.