Blockchain for Banking News

Sberbank left out of first round of Russia’s CBDC trials

digital ruble cbdc currency

Tass released some details about Russia’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) trials. Most of the digital ruble data was not new. However, we failed to notice a detail previously – the 13 banks participating in the first round pilot do not include Russia’s largest bank Sber. Nor does it include Tinkoff, Russia’s big digital bank. The central bank reiterated it will not launch before 2025.

While the Russian press noted the omission of the two banks in August, they provided no reasons. However, in October, Sber confirmed it will participate in the second wave of banks. The Russian government owns 50% of Sber plus one voting share. The central bank said 19 additional banks expressed interest in taking part in the second group next year, with 16 ready to go.

In the recent Tass report, the central bank emphasized that it might extend the pilot beyond 2024 and it will only launch the digital currency after the completion of the trials.

The news service also reiterated the commercial terms we previously reported. Paying and topping up the CBDC is free for consumers. Merchant fees for accepting the digital ruble will be just 0.3% compared to the normal 2.5%.

The 13 first wave banks are Alfa Bank, DOM.RF Bank, Ingosstrakh Bank, VTB, Gazprombank, Qiwi Bank, Ak Bars Bank, MTS Bank, Promsvyazbank, Sovcombank, Sinara Bank, Rosbank and Transcapitalbank.

Meanwhile, Tinkoff Bank has a newsworthy back story. Its founder Oleg Tinkov criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As a result, he claimed the Kremlin forced him to sell his 35% stake in the bank to Vladimir Potanin for a fraction of its previous worth. One estimate was a figure of $225 million compared to Tinkov’s worth of $9 billion in late 2021. Mr Potanin, who controls mining giant Norilsk, also acquired Rosbank from Societe Generale.

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