Earlier this month, Russian banks warned the Bank of Russia that the digital ruble under discussion might weaken them if people pull their funds to rush into the new system. Introducing the digital ruble into Russia’s financial system might cost the country’s banks up to 25 billion rubles (~$34 million), according to Sber, Russia’s largest retail bank and the most vocal critic of the current approach to the central bank digital currency (CBDC).
The Bank of Russia’s chairwoman, Elvira Nabiullina, shrugged off these concerns during a press conference on Friday.
“We don’t see this [digital ruble launch] leading to any significant funds outflows or changes,” she said.
Last week, Sber calculated that banks might lose up to 4 trillion rubles (~$54 billion) in liquidity in the first three years once the project launched. As a result, the money-strapped banks would have to increase interest rates about half a percent and restrict loans for retail as well as small businesses.
Nabiullina was skeptical about this estimate, saying, “I’m not sure where these numbers are coming from,” and adding that interest rates would not be affected by the digital ruble but by inflation rates and general monetary policies.
“If for some reason, unrelated to the digital ruble, banks experience a liquidity shortage, we have tools to fix that,” Nabiullina said.