The Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR) will develop a roadmap for the introduction of the digital ruble by the end of 2023, First Deputy Chairman Olga Skorobogatova said in an interview with the Tass news agency, revealing an earlier deadline than previously set.
The high-ranking official also noted that the regulator intends to start testing operations with the Russian central bank digital currency (CBDC) with real clients as early as April 2023, indicating these plans have been adjusted, too. Skorobogatova emphasized that next year will be very important for the project and elaborated:
Testing of real operations will give us the opportunity to understand what needs to be tweaked and brought to mind, what to refine, what to change. We want to develop a roadmap for the introduction of the digital ruble at the end of next year.
The deputy governor pointed out that 12 banks are currently taking part in the pilot. Another three banks want to join the trials and the monetary authority has received applications from several non-financial organizations as well.
Olga Skorobogatova remarked it’s too early to talk about results from the current stage as the participants are moving at different speeds. “But more than half of the banks in the pilot group are progressing at a very good pace, we meet the stated deadlines,” she said.
The importance of the CBDC project has increased amid mounting Western sanctions over Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. The executive added that the central bank will have to work out cross-border interactions between the digital ruble and other countries’ digital currencies in order to make the Russian financial system more independent.
“In my opinion, all self-respecting states will have a national digital currency within three years. And we will need to build cross-border cooperation in that direction as well,” Skorobogatova commented. “We definitely need to be ready as soon as possible. Plus, this, among other things, solves the problem with SWIFT, because with such integration, SWIFT will no longer be needed,” she explained.
The Bank of Russia presented the concept of the digital ruble in a report published in October 2020. The CBDC’s prototype platform was finalized in December 2021 and the pilot phase was initiated in January of this year. As part of the trials, the CBR and Russian commercial banks plan to test various types of payments with the digital ruble, including settlements for real estate deals, the daily Izvestia recently unveiled.