The 2019 triennial central bank survey is one of the most comprehensive reports on the amount of turnover in the foreign exchange markets. The first report was in 1986. Their last report was in 2019 and the next one is due in 2022 (as the name would suggest), as long as there are no COVID-19 delays. The report claims to take data from central banks and other key FX players within 53 different jurisdictions as well as 1,300 banks and dealers within these jurisdictions.

Here are some of the highlights from the report that are worth being aware of:

  1. The US dollar was traded on one side of 88% of trades. The USD is not called the king dollar for nothing, The world’s go-to reserve currency and the currency of global trade.
  2. 25% of global turnover was from emerging market economies.
  3. The sales desks in five countries accounted for 79% of all foreign exchange trading. These countries were the UK, the US< Hong Kong SAR, Singapore & Japan, with trading in the UK and Hong Kong SAR growing more than the global average.

Below is the chart showing the most traded currencies and pairs.

The most traded currency pairs are (on the left-hand side of the chart below):

  • EURUSD
  • USDJPY
  • GBPUSD
  • AUDUSD
  • USDCAD

The most-traded currencies are (note that as two currencies are used the sum of individual shares will total 200%):

  • USD 88.3%
  • EUR 32.23%
  • JPY 16.8%
  • GBP 12.8%
  • AUD 6.8%

China’s currency continues to grow in overall volume being the 8th most traded currency in the world at 4.3%

Below is the foreign exchange market turnover by instrument. Most currency transactions involve FX swaps, about 1/2, and around 1/3 are in the spot market.

Read the full report here