The Bank of Russia's central bank digital currency (CBDC), the digital ruble, is ready for its pilot phase, said the bank's deputy governor, Olga Skorobogatova, on Friday.
The project will be launched for peer-to-peer transfers between individuals and for retail purchases, Skorobogatova told journalists during a fintech conference in Russia. "The pilot will work on real operations for real people, but only for a limited number of them, with the 13 banks that have signaled they're ready," she said, according to Russian news agency TASS.
The central bank will pilot the CBDC with sets of selected clients, she added. After the pilot, the Bank of Russia will decide on the ways to expand the project, according to TASS.
Russia's central bank first proposed a CBDC project in October 2020 when it published a consultation paper outlining potential designs of the digital ruble. In later comments, the bank said the project can help decrease the Russian economy's dependency on the U.S. dollar and mitigate the impact of foreign sanctions on the country since its invasion of Ukraine.
The pilot was initially expected to go live in 2021 but provoked some concerns in the Russian banking community that rolling out infrastructure for the digital ruble will be burdensome for lenders and make the banking system more centralized and less diverse. The Bank of Russia later promised to modify the concept so that it doesn't hurt the traditional system.
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