The Bank of Russia’s digital ruble pilot was originally scheduled to start on April 1. However, the enabling legislation for the central bank digital currency (CBDC) has only had its first reading in the State Duma, so the pilot can only be formally launched once it is passed, which is expected in mid April or early May, according to TASS*.
“The pilot with real digital rubles will begin as soon as the legislative and regulatory framework is adopted. For its part, the Bank of Russia is ready to conduct the pilot within the stated time frame – in April. But since real people will participate in it and transactions will be carried out with real money, it is necessary to have a legal basis,” said the Central Bank.
The limited scale pilot has been described as for “friends and family”, including staff of 13 participating commercial banks and in a few cases customers. According to the financial website Banki, Alfa Bank is ready to process its first transactions, as are Soyuz, Sinara Bank and Rosbank, with the latter including a “group of loyal customers” in the tests.
Meanwhile, according to reports in January, the central bank planned to start exploring cross border CBDC usage in the current quarter. That would either be bilaterally interlinking with other domestic CBDCs or a shared platform supporting multiple CBDCs.
With the delay in the domestic pilot, perhaps that work has been accelerated.
We were unable to reach the TASS website owing to EU restrictions. And the Bank of Russia has blocked access from some foreign states, which is a new development. Hence this news story is not first hand but based on multiple other Russian news sources with common information.