Russian central bank to launch digital ruble pilot Aug. 15


Russia’s foray into digital fiat currency adoption will involve 13 banks and 30 companies.

Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate

Russia’s central bank announced on Aug. 9 that it will initiate testing its digital ruble with banks, consumers, and businesses in mid-August.

Olga Skorobogatova, First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia, said:

“The launch of pilot operations with real digital rubles is the most important stage of the project. This will allow us to test the operation of the digital ruble platform …  and make sure that the client path is convenient and understandable for users.”

The central bank revealed that from Aug. 15, participants from 13 selected banks will commence spending and using the digital ruble at 30 designated locations across 11 cities.

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During the pilot, users will be able to create accounts or wallets, make peer-to-peer transfers, perform auto payments, and make QR code purchases. The announcement emphasizes that the test will involve a real version of the digital currency.

The Bank of Russia’s official statement says only that the asset will be available to a “limited circle” of clients. A separate report from Reuters suggests that 600 consumers will take part in the program. Reuters additionally quotes Skorobogatova as stating that the bank “expect[s] to test operations with real customers.”

The Bank of Russia said that the pilot program will expand its features by the end of 2023 with support for dynamic QR codes, transfers between legal entities, and greater support for autopayments. Reuters separately noted that the program will allow additional banks to participate in 2024 and said 19 more banks have expressed interest.

Digital ruble has long been underway

Skorobogatova noted that the digital ruble will eventually provide a basis for cross-border payments. Russia took an interest in alternative cross-border transfers in late 2022 as war sanctions prevented it from engaging in some international transactions.

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The past several months have seen numerous other developments around the digital ruble and its testing phase. Legislators began to approve certain draft laws establishing the CBDC in March. News concerning a test period emerged around July 19, and Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the asset later that month.

On Aug. 4, Russia’s central bank said that digital ruble transactions would be free until 2025 and otherwise described parts of the upcoming pilot program.

The digital ruble is expected to be broadly available in 2025.

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Author: Mike Dalton

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