Personal customers in the U.S. can now trade renminbi RMB (also called CNY, or Yuan) more easily. Bank of China (BOC) spokesperson announced in January 2011 that the bank has offered RMB trading services to U.S. customers since late 2010, the first Chinese bank to start such RMB business in the U.S.
This was a very quiet move which did not get noticed by most people until well after the announcement. The new move is seen as another step for China to promote the use of RMB internationally, after allowing Moscow Currency Exchange to open a direct RMB trading session in Russia since December 2010.
Bank of China is the oldest bank in China and is now the stated-owned fourth-largest lender by assets.
Bank of China started its business in New York since 1936. Now the bank has three U.S. branches: 410 Madison Avenue for its New York Branch, 42 East Broadway for its New York Chinatown Branch and 444 South Flower Street for its Los Angeles Branch.
Like most of the other accounts available. there is a minimum balance requirement for opening a new renminbi deposit account in the Bank of China in the U.S. The renminbi minimum balance requirement is basically the same as that for the regular USD accounts. For all personal customers, the minimum balance for RMB saving accounts is the RMB equivalent of USD $500, while the minimum balance of RMB time deposit accounts is the RMB equivalent of USD $1,000. In addition to buying renminbi directly from the bank, personal customers can also fund their renminbi accounts through RMB remittance service.
Although it is now a bit more easier than before for personal customers to ‘buy and hold’ RMB in the U.S. through the Bank of China, please be aware of all the BOC’s RMB account constraints which mainly aim to discourage speculative bets on RMB appreciation.
For instance, RMB foreign exchange transactions for personal customers can only be done at its New York Chinatown Branch, neither at the New York Madison Avenue Branch nor at the Los Angeles Branch. There is also a daily trading limit and an annual trading limit imposed for each RMB account in the Bank of China. The daily limit for buying or selling RMB is now set at USD $4,000 worth of RMB and the annual limit is USD $20,000 worth of RMB.
After all, trading RMB overseas is not an investment without risk especially as RMB is still not a freely convertible currency.