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Russia to launch CBDC pilot with real consumers in April

Russia to launch CBDC pilot with real consumers in April

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The Bank of Russia is preparing to launch the first consumer pilot for the country’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) on April 1, 2023.

The Central Bank of Russia will soon conduct the first real digital ruble transactions with 13 local banks and several merchants, First Deputy Governor Olga Skorobogatova said.

The official noted that the upcoming CBDC pilot will involve real operations and real consumers in Russia, but will be limited to a certain number of transactions and customers, local news agency TASS reported.

“We plan to launch the digital ruble project on April 1 with transactions that include individual transfers, as well as payments in trade and service companies,” Skorobogatova said at the Ural Forum Cybersecurity in Finance. She added that the banks participating in the pilot have technically confirmed their readiness to start testing the digital ruble.

The deputy governor clarified that general customers will not be able to participate in the pilot in the first phase, as the banks will enter the pilot with selected customers. After the first pilot phase, the Bank of Russia plans to determine how to further scale the digital ruble, explained Skorobogatova.

Olga Skorobogatova, First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia. Source: Bank of Russia

Skorobogatova’s latest announcement follows the roadmap for digital ruble adoption, which the central bank officially launched in June 2022. Originally scheduled for 2024, the consumer CBDC pilot has been pushed back to an earlier date as the Central Bank of Russia was looking for an alternative to its SWIFT payment system amid Western economic sanctions against Russia.

Related: Iran and Russia set to issue new stablecoins backed by gold

The news comes amid some Russian officials who are claiming that the Bank of Russia is considering a potential gold-backed token aimed at cross-border transactions. First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia Vladimir Chistyukhin believes that such a “golden token” will help Russia create a new attractive investment product and build a popular payment method in international settlement.

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