Russia’s central bank intends on launching a digital ruble prototype this year, its deputy chairman has recently revealed. The bank announced its central bank digital currency plans in 2020, causing rifts within the banking sector. It now intends to launch the prototype as development continues into the next year.
Alexey Zabotkin, the deputy chairman of the Bank of Russia, confirmed the news at an event recently hosted by the Russian Economic School. He said the bank wants to give the citizens an opportunity to test the digital ruble, even though it won’t support real-time transactions initially.
“Next year, based on that prototype and any additional developments needed, we will start testing it,” the regulator stated, as local news outlet Prime reports. He added, “But it won’t allow us to process real transactions yet.”
The bank first announced its digital ruble venture in mid-October of 2020. “A digital ruble can make payments faster, simpler and safer,” it stated on its consultation paper. It further cited the reduction of costs and promotion of competition among financial institutions as other advantages of the CBDC.
The proposed digital ruble has caused a rift between the commercial banks and the industry regulator. The banks have expressed concern that the CBDC would put them in direct competition with the central bank. They also pointed to the centralized nature of the CBDC as a potential risk for users in the long term.
However, as the deputy governor revealed in additional comments to CoinDesk, the digital ruble has received overwhelming support, noting that 83% of the respondents they polled fully support the digital currency.