The Bank of Russia officially announced the establishment of the first pilot group for testing the digital ruble, bringing together 12 Russian banks. The pilot members include Russia’s largest banks like state-backed Sberbank and VTB and major private banks like Tinkoff Bank. Other participants include commercial banks Alfa-Bank, Gazprombank, Promsvyazbank, Rosbank, Ak Bars Bank, Dom.RF, SKB-Bank, TKB and Soyuz bank.
Bank of Russia aims to complete a prototype digital ruble platform by the end of 2021.
The Bank of Russia reaffirmed Russia’s plans to complete a prototype digital ruble platform by the end of 2021 and roll out testing in January 2022. The first stage of testing will involve issuing the digital ruble and several other operations. The Bank of Russia then plans to extend the number of participants and range of pilot projects around the country. Bank of Russia’s first deputy governor, Olga Skorobogatova, had earlier that the digital ruble would increase the availability of payments while reducing costs.
Russia joins other major economies in developing a CBDC.
The Bank of Russia had officially announced its CBDC plans, issuing a consultation paper on the development of a digital ruble in October 2020. The central bank’s prioritization of the digital ruble over private cryptocurrencies has drawn some criticism from many high-profile figures, including prominent oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who recently argued that the bank should provide a “real financial instrument enabling independence in foreign trade settlements.” Russia has joined major economies in developing central bank-backed digital currencies. China is working its way towards implementing digital yuan on a larger scale. USA, Japan, England are other major countries working on a CBDC.