Russia’s “cryptoruble” – its central bank digital currency (CBDC) initiative – is seemingly picking up momentum after years spent in limbo.
Earlier this month, the Russian Central Bank announced that it would consider debuting a digital token, after a year ago stating that there was no need to issue a digital version of the RUB. But now – perhaps inspired by the lightning-fast progress of China’s digital yuan project and European central banks’ own forthcoming pilots – the Central Bank is shifting gears on the cryptoruble, with a number of domestic banks itching to get on board.
Per Izvestia, the Credit Bank of Moscow, the state-backed Promsvyazbank, Bank ZENIT, Bank DOM.RF and the primarily Crimea-centered Russian National Commercial Bank have all come forward to the Central Bank to express their interest in running pilots for the new digital fiat.
The media outlet stated that the State Duma’s financial markets committee chief Anatoly Aksakov expects the pilot to launch “in the first half of 2021,” and said that provisions for CBDC-related matters could be integrated with forthcoming and soon-to-be-promulgated cryptoasset-focused bills.
A number of Russian banks have already reportedly begun preliminary work on creating digital wallets compatible with the digital RUB. But some of the institutions interviewed by Izvestia appeared to hint that the international banking community is still a long way behind Beijing in the CBDC stakes.
The Central Bank added that its CBDC would enable users to enjoy lower commission rates compared to other payment and settlement methods.
It also said that a mobile app would allow for offline purchases and transfers – while a Zenit official stated that transactions would be available through ATMs, payment terminals, banking app and internet banking platform interfaces.
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