April 10, 2018 / 7:26 AM / in a year

Japan, Hong Kong to link central bank systems for easier cross-border trade

FILE PHOTO - People walk on a street in front of the Bank of Japan headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, March 31, 2016. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and Hong Kong will connect their financial systems to immediately settle transactions involving assets denominated in their respective currencies, the Bank of Japan said on Tuesday, in what is likely the first such attempt by any central bank.

Under the scheme, the Bank of Japan and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority will facilitate real-time settlement between Japanese government bonds (JGBs) and Hong Kong dollars.

It will allow Japanese financial institutions to procure Hong Kong dollars with JGBs as collateral through the central bank network. The system will also give Hong Kong financial institutions a platform to invest short-term excess funds.

Currently, most Japanese banks operating in Hong Kong procure funds by exchanging the yen for U.S. dollars, and then use the U.S. currency to purchase Hong Kong dollars.

Once the new system kicks in, the Japanese banks will be able to procure Hong Kong dollars without having to pay the cost of exchanging yen for the greenback.

The move comes in the wake of increasing presence by Japanese banks in Asia, as they seek lending opportunities outside Japan amid a dwindling domestic market.

The two central banks will begin work on the new system this fiscal year that began April 1, and aim to complete it by spring of 2021, the BOJ said in a statement.

Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath

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