14 Sep 2021 09:18

CBR sees no obstacle to introducing digital ruble, to start testing it in Jan 2022

MOSCOW. Sept 14 (Interfax) - The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) does not see any obstacles to introducing a digital ruble and plans to start testing a prototype platform in January 2022 as previously planned, the CBR's press service reported, citing CBR first deputy chairman Olga Skorobogatova.

"At this point we do not see any obstacles to introducing a digital ruble. Nonetheless, we will first do testing. It will take place in several stages and provides for various scenarios and various types of transactions," Skorobogatova said.

Based on the results of the testing, a roadmap will be worked out to introduce the digital ruble and the necessary amendments to legislation will be drafted, she said, adding that the platform for the digital ruble is now being actively developed.

This is one of the CBR's key projects, so it has been included in the strategy for the development of the financial market to 2030 that has been drawn up with the Finance Ministry, Skorobogatova said.

The launch of the digital ruble will be one of the key projects in the area of digitization in the period to 2030, the strategy, which was published on Monday, said.

"The introduction of a digital ruble will help to further develop payment infrastructure, increase competition and advance new innovative financial instruments, as well as increase the accessibility and reduce the cost of services for individuals and businesses," the document said.

Regulators in various countries have begun studying central bank digital currency in light of the emergence of extraterritorial money surrogates, or cryptocurrencies and in response to consumer needs for a safe digital payment instrument, the strategy said. The CBR, the government and other stakeholders, including market participants, are also working out issues concerning the introduction of a digital ruble in future, the document said.

But along with the "launch of the digital ruble and development of payment instruments, the government of the Russian Federation and the Bank of Russia will continue to oppose the use of money surrogates, given that this carries high risks for individuals and could also make it difficult to effectively conduct a macroeconomic policy aimed at fostering favourable economic conditions," the strategy said.

The CBR put together the first pilot group for testing the digital ruble in June. It plans to finish developing the prototype platform in December 2021 and start testing it in January 2022. The testing will be done in several stages over the whole course of 2022.

The CBR released an advisory report on the digital ruble in October 2020. It is considering issuing digital rubles, which would become a new form of money alongside cash and noncash rubles. Russians would be able to put digital rubles in their electronic wallets and use them both online and offline.