Russia's Central Bank Is Considering Launching a Digital Currency

The head of Russia's central bank has said the institution is investigating the possible future launch of a digital currency.

Jun 17, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 9:19 a.m. UTC

The head of Russia's central bank has said the institution could one day launch its own digital currency.

Chairwoman Elvira Nabiullina told a student conference that, while such a project "cannot be realized immediately," various central banks, including Bank of Russia, are investigating the possibility, TASS reported Saturday.

Key to the utility of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), she said, is that the technology must ensure "reliability and continuity." "Technologies must be mature, including technologies of distributed registries," Nabiullina said.

Another question is whether citizens are ready to leave cash behind.

According to Nabiullina:

"It will be more convenient, it is electronic money for people, for citizens. Are we ready, as a society, to refuse cash?"

While some nations have become almost cash-free, others are still fond of physical money, she said – not so much for illicit reasons, but because they value privacy and anonymity.

She finished with some advice to the central bank's researchers, saying they should compare the advantages of CBDCs over other methods, such as fast bank payments.

With something of a tradition of being crypto-skeptical, Russian authorities have softened towards the tech more recently.

Just last month, Nabiullina said that the central bank would consider the use of a gold-backed cryptocurrency to facilitate international settlements.

Also reported by Tass, she said at the time that the Bank of Russia would review a proposal for the development of the cryptocurrency. Nabiullina added, however, that fiat currency settlement systems within the Eurasian Economic Union are improving and already have “good dynamics.”

The Duma, Russia's lower legislative house, is also moving towards passing cryptocurrency legislation, although a projected completion timeline of this spring session is looking unlikely to be met.

Elvira Nabiullina image via Shutterstock

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