Hong Kong lenders are getting ready to battle it out for non-residents who want to open yuan bank accounts in the city. Non-residents were allowed to open yuan accounts from yesterday. The three note-issuing banks - HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Bank of China (Hong Kong) - as well as Hang Seng Bank and some private banks rushed to offer incentives, mostly high interest rates, to compete for non-resident business. Previously, anyone without a Hong Kong identity card was barred from opening yuan accounts here. But the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city's de facto central bank, announced last week it was lifting the ban to attract overseas investors to trade yuan products here. Hang Seng Bank has offered a special 6.38 per cent interest rate for one-week yuan deposits. HSBC is offering a rate of up to 2.9 per cent for 12-month yuan deposits, while Standard Chartered Bank is offering 2.8 per cent. The typical interest rate on yuan deposits is about 1.5 per cent, while Hong Kong dollar deposits are set at almost zero. All three lenders said non-residents opened yuan accounts yesterday at their respective banks, but each declined to give details about the account holders. Yuan deposits in Hong Kong in June stood at 557.7 billion yuan (HK$684.08 billion) down 11 per cent from the peak in November 2011. The decline is due to the fact that many investors believe the value of the Chinese currency this year will be flat against the US dollar, in contrast to its 30 per cent appreciation since 2004. The yuan is not yet fully convertible, but Beijing has gradually relaxed rules since 2009 to encourage the use of the currency to settle trade and for investment globally. Claude Haberer, head of Asia wealth-management operations at Swiss private bank Pictet, said non-resident private bank clients would definitely be interested in opening yuan accounts in Hong Kong. 'The yuan is becoming an international currency. It is also stable and linked to the strongest large economy in the world. When the US dollar and euro are showing high volatility and fundamental economic weakness, the yuan will [increasingly] be seen as a safe haven,' Haberer said. 'Offshore yuan accounts and related investments, bonds in particular, have become basic products a Hong Kong-based private bank must offer.' Under a Beijing rule, from 2004 Hong Kong residents were allowed to open yuan bank accounts. They can only exchange up to 20,000 yuan a day but can remit 80,000 yuan a day back to the mainland. Non-residents aren't subject to an exchange cap, but they are prohibited from sending money back to the mainland.