The Bank of Russia (BoR) has revealed that it will begin testing operations for Russia’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) project with digital rubles. The test will begin on Aug. 15. 

A statement released by the Bank of Russia indicates that the pilot tests will involve the participation of 13 banks and a restricted group of their clients.

According to Olga Skorobogatova, first deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, initiating pilot operations using genuine digital rubles represents a pivotal phase within the project. This step facilitates the examination of the digital ruble platform’s functionality within an industrial context, the refinement of essential procedures in collaboration with clients, potential process adjustments, and the assurance of a user-friendly and comprehensible client experience.

Skorobogatova added that the bank’s strategy involves bringing the digital ruble into widespread use, hinging on the outcomes of gradual testing and contingent upon the successful execution of comprehensive trials encompassing all operational possibilities involving the digital ruble. According to the deputy governor, it is expected that starting from 2025, citizens and businesses will be able to actively use the national digital currency at their own request.

As per the announcement, the initial phase of the pilot program will focus on refining fundamental processes, including the establishment and funding of digital ruble accounts (digital wallets), digital ruble transactions among individuals, uncomplicated automated payments, and the utilization of a QR code for transactions involving purchases and services.

Those taking part in the pilot initiative will have the opportunity to employ digital rubles for payments at 30 retail establishments situated across 11 cities in Russia. The intention is to broaden the roster of pilot participants by the conclusion of 2023, encompassing the inclusion of both individuals and businesses.

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In 2024, the array of transactions will be enhanced, featuring an additional payment scenario utilizing a dynamic QR code and facilitating transfers between legal entities. Furthermore, the scope of templates for uncomplicated automated payments will be extended.

The introduction of the digital ruble pilot had previously been postponed indefinitely due to the fact that its legislation had only advanced through the initial reading in the State Duma, which constitutes the lower chamber of the Federal Assembly. Nevertheless, Russia proceeded with the central bank digital currency initiative, as President Vladimir Putin enacted the digital ruble legislation on July 24.

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