The Central Bank of Russia has stressed the importance of moving forward with its digital ruble project. According to a senior official, the monetary authority has no intention of postponing the tests, although not all invited banks are ready to participate.
The Bank of Russia will experiment with digital payments in rubles this year
The digital ruble is “much needed,” commented Olga Skorobogatova, First Vice President of the Bank of Russia, in a recent statement quoted by the cryptocurrency page of business news portal RBC. The regulator will not delay upcoming tests of the prototype coin platform, the senior official said and explained: If we move quickly with testing and legislative changes, we can implement it in the coming years.
The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) launched tests with the digital ruble in January and announced the first successful transactions between individual wallets in mid-February. At least a dozen Russian financial institutions are participating in the experiments, which are expected to continue through 2022.
Not all participating banks are technically ready to participate in the trials at this point, Skorobogatova admitted. However, he insisted that this should not affect the schedule of the Central Bank of Russia (CBDC) digital currency issuance project.
The second phase of testing is scheduled to begin in the fall, Skorobogatova announced earlier this year. During this phase, the CBR plans to launch operations that include payments for goods and services using the digital ruble, as well as state remittances. The bank also issues smart contracts in cooperation with the Federal Treasury.
The digital ruble is the third incarnation of Russia's national fiat currency, after paper money and electronic (bank money) issued by the Central Bank of Russia. Russians can use it both online and offline. The CBR says its CBDC will create new opportunities for citizens, businesses and the state.
As Russia grapples with the fallout from expanding Western sanctions over the Ukraine war, there have been calls in Moscow to turn to cryptocurrencies to bypass restrictions and fund international trade. The idea of making the digital ruble a reserve currency was also floated last month in a bid to reduce Russia's dependence on the US.Dollar now that its foreign exchange reserves are frozen.