The Central Bank of Russia continues to ramp up testing and issuance of the digital ruble and is now expected to fully implement its roadmap for the new form of national fiat currency by the end of 2023. Trials with actual transactions and users are scheduled to begin in April next year, earlier than originally planned.
Bank of Russia to launch digital ruble roadmap next year
The Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR) will develop a roadmap for the introduction of the digital ruble by the end of 2023, Olga Skorobogatova, First Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR), said in an interview with TASS news agency, revealing an earlier deadline than previously set date.
The senior official also noted that the regulator intends to start testing real customers of Russia’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) as early as April 2023, suggesting that those plans have also been adjusted. Skorobogatova stressed that next year is very important for the project, elaborating:
Hands-on testing will give us the opportunity to understand what needs to be adjusted and remembered, improved, and changed. We hope to develop a roadmap for the launch of the digital ruble by the end of next year.
The vice president pointed out that there are currently 12 banks participating in the pilot program. Three other banks want to join the trial, and the monetary authority has also received applications from some non-financial organisations.
Olga Skorobogatova said it was too early to talk about the outcome of the current phase, as the participants moved at different speeds. “But more than half of the banks in the pilot group are making progress at a very good pace and we have met the deadlines set,” she said.
The importance of CBDC projects has grown as Western sanctions mount over Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine. The executive added that the central bank will have to address cross-border interactions between the digital ruble and other countries’ digital currencies in order to make the Russian financial system more independent.
“In my opinion, all self-respecting countries will have a national digital currency within three years. We also need to establish cross-border cooperation in this direction,” commented Skorobogatova. “We absolutely need to be ready as soon as possible. Also, this solves the problem with SWIFT, because with this integration, SWIFT will no longer be required,” she explained.
The Bank of Russia proposed the concept of a digital ruble in a report published in October 2020. The prototype platform for the CBDC was completed in December 2021, and the pilot phase was launched in January this year. As part of the trial, the CBR and Commerzbank plan to test various payment methods using the digital ruble, including settlement of real estate transactions, the Izvestia daily published recently.
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