Russia will officially start piloting digital ruble transactions with real consumers on April 1, according to Olga Skorobogatova, the First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia. Thirteen banks are lined up to participate in the retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot, Kommersant reported.
“We are planning to launch the digital ruble project into a pilot stage from April 1 at the beginning with operations – transfers between individuals and payments in trade and service enterprises,” said Skorobogatova (translated with Google Translate).
There have been recent unconfirmed reports that the central bank is accelerating plans for cross border CBDC trials to start them imminently. According to a previously published schedule, cross border CBDC trials were only intended in 2024.
Meanwhile, legislation to give the central bank the authority to issue a CBDC was submitted to the State Duma at the end of 2022 and added to the agenda in mid-January. It gives the central bank responsibility over the CBDC issuance and the right to determine the fees and remuneration for all participants.
In other news, this week the Bank of Russia’s press department said it had created the Department for Organization of International Settlements. The aim appears to be to address sanctions. The department will develop correspondent banking relationships between Russian banks and counterparties from ‘friendly countries’. It will explore settlements in ‘national currencies’ and cross border transaction ‘opportunities.