Russia to start real-world tests for digital ruble

abdelaziz Fathi

The Bank of Russia (BoR) has unveiled its plans to kick off testing operations for Russia’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) project. The trial is set to begin on August 15th.

digital ruble

Excluding Sberbank and Tinkoff, the central bank said in a statement that the pilot tests will involve the participation of 13 banks and a select group of their clients.

Olga Skorobogatova, the First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia, explains that the pilot operations using genuine digital rubles will enable a comprehensive evaluation of the CBDC platform’s functionality in an industrial context. It will also facilitate improving essential procedures in collaboration with clients, potential process adjustments, and the assurance of a user-friendly client experience.

Skorobogatova further explained that the bank’s strategy involves gradually introducing the digital ruble for widespread use based on the outcomes of trials involving all operational aspects of the digital ruble. She expects that by 2025, citizens and businesses will have the ability to actively utilize the national digital currency upon request.

During the initial phase of the pilot program, the focus will be on refining fundamental processes. This includes the establishment and funding of digital ruble accounts (digital wallets), digital ruble transactions between individuals, simple automated payments, and utilizing QR codes for transactions involving purchases and services.

“The launch of pilot operations with real digital rubles is the most important stage of the project. This will allow us to test the operation of the digital ruble platform already in an industrial environment, work out all the necessary procedures with the involvement of clients, adjust processes, if necessary, and make sure that the client path is convenient and understandable for users,” the Bank of Russia said in Wednesday’s announcement.

The move comes shortly after Russia’s central bank digital currency unveiled the new coin’s corporate logo, which features an international ruble symbol enclosed within a circle and is available in four color combinations.

Accompanying the logo reveal, the Bank of Russia also published the commission fee rates for various CBDC operations. Until the end of 2024, all services related to the digital ruble will be free of charge. However, starting from 2025, there will be fees for certain transactions.

Business-to-business transactions will cost 15 rubles ($0.16) per transaction, while individuals will be charged 0.3% of the total transaction amount when transferring to commercial accounts and 0.2% when paying for civil services.

The fee rates mentioned above will become effective on January 1, 2025, following a zero-fee period for all transactions with the digital ruble on the regulator’s platform until that date.

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