The Central Bank of Russia is moving forward with its plan to launch a digital ruble and has announced that it will be conducting test operations with the new digital currency in April 2023. The new currency will be used for actual transactions between real customers of more than a dozen banks that are participating in the pilot project. According to Olga Skorobogatova, the Deputy Governor of the bank, the test will begin with transfers between individuals and payments between trade and service companies.
The test phase of the project will be conducted with a limited number of transactions and participating clients, and ordinary customers will not be able to participate at this stage. The testing is an important step towards determining how to scale the use of the digital ruble, with the results expected to inform the eventual full launch of the currency in 2024.
The digital ruble project was announced in October 2020 and a prototype of the platform for the central bank digital currency (CBDC) was completed in December 2021. The pilot phase was launched in January 2022, and the bill for the digital ruble was filed with the lower house of the Russian parliament in January of this year.
As Russia faces increased pressure from Western sanctions, the country has stepped up its efforts to finalize the CBDC. The opening of digital ruble wallets has already been tested, and the plan for the future includes using the state-issued coin to make payments for public services, implementing smart contracts, and introducing offline transactions.
The testing of the digital ruble is expected to bring about new opportunities for digital payments and other financial services, which could contribute to the development of the country’s economy and its financial sector. As the digital ruble moves through its testing phases and approaches its eventual launch, it will be interesting to see how it impacts the Russian financial landscape and whether it will be adopted as a widely used form of payment in the country.