The Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR) is going to proceed to the next phase of the digital ruble pilot project on the first day of April. Testing will involve real transactions with the new form of the national fiat, Deputy Governor Olga Skorobogatova told journalists.
The plan is to start with transfers between individuals and payments between trade and service companies, the top official detailed. Skorobogatova emphasized that these will be “real transactions” and “real customers” of 13 banks that are ready to take part.
However, she also noted that the initial number of these transactions, as well as the number of participating clients, will be limited. Ordinary customers will not be able to participate in the testing at the first stage, the banker said on the sidelines of the Cybersecurity in Finance forum in Yekaterinburg.
Quoted by the Tass news agency, Skorobogatova elaborated that upon completing the tests, the regulator will be able to determine how to scale the use of its central bank digital currency (CBDC). She also remarked that the participating banks have passed all technical and operational tests to enter the trials on April 1.
The digital ruble project was announced in October 2020 and a prototype of the CBDC platform was finalized in December 2021. The pilot phase was launched in January 2022. A bill on the digital ruble was filed with the lower house of the Russian parliament this past January, and the CBR is aiming for a full launch of the national digital currency in 2024.
Under pressure from Western sanctions, Russia has stepped up efforts to finalize its CBDC. The opening of digital ruble wallets has been already tested and plans for the future include using the state-issued coin to make payments for public services, implementing smart contracts, and introducing offline transactions.