Russia's central bank, the Bank of Russia, is set to launch the first consumer pilot for the nation's central bank digital currency (CBDC) on April 1, 2023. The pilot will involve real operations and real consumers in Russia and will be limited to a certain number of transactions and customers.
Real-World Digital Ruble Transactions to Begin in April 2023
The first real-world digital ruble transactions will involve 13 local banks and several merchants. The deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, Olga Skorobogatova, stated that general customers would not be able to participate in the pilot in the first stage, as the banks will enter the pilot with chosen customers. Following the first pilot stage, the Bank of Russia plans to determine how to scale the digital ruble further.
Bank of Russia's Digital Ruble Project Timeline
The Bank of Russia officially introduced the roadmap for the digital ruble rollout in June 2022. Initially scheduled for 2024, the consumer CBDC pilot was moved to an earlier date due to the bank's search for an alternative to the SWIFT payments system amid Western economic sanctions against Russia.
Bank of Russia Considers Gold-Backed Tokens for Cross-Border Transactions
Some Russian officials claim that the Bank of Russia is considering a potential gold-backed token targeting cross-border transactions. The bank's first deputy governor, Vladimir Chistyukhin, believes that such a "golden token" will help Russia create a new attractive investment product and build a demanded payment method in international settlement.