• Russian banks have begun to experiment with digital ruble payments

  • Banks in Russia are prepared to enter the digital ruble project’s trial phase, and some are already testing transactions with the currency. Customer-to-customer (C2C) payments have been tested, and the Bank of Russia intends to extend the sorts of operations in the future.

    The Digital Ruble Pilot has begun, with 12 banks taking part.

    The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) finished the prototype of the digital ruble platform in December and is already testing transactions. A dozen banks have been invited to participate in the project’s pilot phase. The monetary authority intends to gradually broaden the range of participants to include additional financial service providers and transaction kinds.

    Tass said that after contacting the institutions, the majority of Russian banks are preparing to begin testing the new central bank digital currency (CBDC). One of them, Promsvyazbank (PSB), is currently processing C2C payments, according to Maxim Khrustalev, counselor to the bank’s vice chairman.

    Following the completion of customer-to-customer transactions, “technical testing of C2B, B2C, and B2B payments will begin.” Based on the outcomes of the pilot, the Bank of Russia will begin commercializing the digital ruble platform,” Khrustalev noted.

    Tinkoff Bank is also participating in the trials of the new digital form of Russian fiat. “Tinkoff is prepared to pilot the digital ruble in the near future,” the online neobank said in a statement. Tinkoff recently entered the cryptocurrency industry by acquiring a controlling position in Aximetria, a Swiss-registered fintech business.

    VTB, another large Russian bank, has stated that its infrastructure is ready to test the digital ruble. “Piloting includes integration with the digital ruble platform and the introduction of services such as opening a wallet through a mobile application and digital ruble transactions between persons,” according to the bank’s press office.

    The digital ruble, according to Vitaly Kopysov, chief innovation officer at SKB-Bank, will be a driving force in the development of new national payment systems for both consumers and businesses. When he spoke with Tass, he elaborated:

    The digital ruble will provide extra impetus to the development of offline cashless payment systems for companies in the lack of Internet access at the point of sale, which is critical given the Russian Federation’s geography.

    Russia’s central bank has taken a tough stance on cryptocurrencies, recently proposing a broad ban on crypto-related operations. It started thinking about a digital ruble three years ago and decided to look into options for issuing the CBDC in 2020, when it launched a consultation paper on the subject. The bank produced a digital ruble concept defining its primary architecture in April 2021.

    Ak Bars, Alfa-Bank, Dom.rf Bank, Gazprombank, Rosbank, Sberbank, Bank Soyuz, and Transcapitalbank are among the other banks participating in the pilot’s initial stage. The Federal Treasury, together with financial intermediaries, will participate in the second stage, which will involve transactions between private individuals and corporate entities, such as consumer-to-business (C2B), business-to-business (B2B), and business-to-government (B2G).

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