Russia to launch CBDC pilot in August
- The pilot program will expand its functionality towards the end of 2023.
- Russia was trying to tackle the financial strain due to Western sanctions through CBDCs.
Russian central bank, The Bank of Russia, has announced that it will begin the central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot on 15 August.
The pilot will see the participation of 13 banks. These banks will begin transactions using the digital ruble at 30 designated locations spread across 11 cities in Russia. The pilot will be open only to a restricted group of their customers.
These customers can create digital wallets to make peer-to-peer transfers during the pilot. They can also make auto payments and purchase using QR codes.
The pilot program will expand its functionality towards the end of 2023. It will include dynamic QR codes, transfers between legal entities, and additional support for auto payments. It will also include both individuals and corporations.
Olga Skorobogatova, First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia, said,
“We plan to introduce the digital ruble into mass circulation based on the results of phased testing and subject to the successful completion of piloting all scenarios for operations with the digital ruble. We expect that starting from 2025, citizens and businesses will be able to actively use the national digital currency, of course, at their own request.”
Should we expect a mass adoption of CBDCs in Russia?
Russia’s central bank has been working on its CBDC project since 2020. President Vladimir Putin signed the digital ruble bill into law last month. According to the central bank, users can use CBDCs only for payments or transfers, not loans or deposits.
In an interview to Forbes in early July, Skorobogatova said that most Russians will not be able to gain access to online wallets until at least 2025.
Elvira Naibullina, Russia’s central bank governor, recently assured Russians that they would not be forced to use the digital ruble. However, she hoped that more people would consider doing so.
Russia was also reportedly facing inflation due to Western financial sanctions against the country. Western countries imposed these sanctions against the country in response to Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Russia is trying to tackle this problem through the introduction of CBDCs. However, it needs to be seen if Russians will take to the digital ruble.