On August 9, Russia’s central bank announced that it will begin testing its digital ruble with banks, consumers, and businesses in mid-August.
First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova stated:
“The launch of pilot operations with real digital rubles is the most important stage of the project. This will allow us to test the operation of the digital ruble platform … and make sure that the client path is convenient and understandable for users.”
Central Bank of Russia
The central bank announced that beginning on August 15, participants from 13 selected banks will begin spending and using the digital ruble at 30 designated locations across 11 cities.
Users will be able to create accounts or wallets, make peer-to-peer transfers, set up auto payments, and purchase QR codes during the pilot. According to the announcement, the test will involve a real version of the digital currency.
The Bank of Russia’s official statement says only that the asset will be available to a “limited circle” of clients. A separate report from Reuters suggests that 600 consumers will take part in the program.
Source additionally quotes Skorobogatova as stating that the bank “expect[s] to test operations with real customers.”
According to the Bank of Russia, the pilot program’s features will be expanded by the end of 2023 to include support for dynamic QR codes, transfers between legal entities, and enhanced autopayment support.
According to source, the program will allow additional banks to participate in 2024, and 19 more banks have expressed interest.
Digital ruble has been in operation for quite some time
Skorobogatova stated that the digital ruble will eventually serve as a payment platform for cross-border transactions.
In late 2022, Russia became interested in alternative cross-border transfers because war sanctions prevented it from engaging in certain international transactions.
Numerous other developments have occurred in relation to the digital ruble and its testing phase over the last few months. In March, legislators began to approve draft laws establishing the CBDC.
The test period was announced around July 19, and Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the asset later that month.
On August 4, Russia’s central bank announced that digital ruble transactions would be free until 2025, as well as other details about the upcoming pilot program. In 2025, the digital ruble is expected to be widely available.
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