You Can Now Open A Chinese Bank Account, Invest Directly In Yuan

This week, for the first time ever, the Bank of China in the US is letting American customers open up accounts and invest directly in Chinese currency. Last year the “closed” currency yuan gained 3.3% against the dollar while the highest American “high interest” accounts were delivering around 1.7%. WSJ gives 5 reasons for getting in on the hot renminbi action:

It’s very unlikely to go down.

It’s very likely to go up.

You won’t miss out on a lot of interest elsewhere, as nowhere else is paying a lot of interest.

It will diversify your portfolio.

And, finally, it may offer you and your family something of a hedge against the decline of the U.S. economy.

As you’ve probably heard, China artificially constricts its currency and prevents it from rising in order to keep exports cheap. They’re under increasing pressure from the US and other to open up their currency. (That this move to open accounts to Americans happened the same week Obama is meeting with the President of China is probably not a coincidence.) So it’s pretty likely that China will let the renminbi rise a bit, which could mean a good return for you.

The biggest reason not to get some Yuan? Your money might do better elsewhere. Or, if you are politically opposed to the idea. You’ll also want to watch out for what can be relatively high service fees on yuan accounts.

Another drawback is that you’ll have to open the account in person, with a $500 minimum deposit and two forms of ID at either at one of the two Bank of China branches in New York or the one in LA. And only the ones in New York come with FDIC insurance.

To reduce speculation, personal customers are limited to $4,000 in deposits per day and $20,000 per year. Business accounts, as long as the company trades internationally, are unlimited.

Do You Need a Chinese Bank Account? [WSJ]