Russia to Launch Real Consumer CBDC Trials in April

  • Planned for 1 April, the CBDC trial will involve real consumers and real transactions, though they will be limited to a certain number of customers and transfers.
  • The pilot, however, will not be opened to the general public in its first phase, and will only be opened to customers chosen by the 13 participating local banks.
bank of russia

Central Bank of Russia building in Moscow. Mistervlad/Shutterstock

The central bank of Russia will soon launch a pilot that will allow real consumers to make transactions using the nation’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), local news agency TASS reported on 17 February.

The publication cited the Bank of Russia’s first deputy governor Olga Skorobogatova, who said during the Ural Forum on Cybersecurity in Finance that the central bank was preparing to launch its first CBDC consumer pilot on 1 April. Participating in the trial will be 13 local banks — who have confirmed they are technically ready for transactions involving the digital ruble — as well as several merchants.

The digital ruble pilot will allow participants to make individual transfers as well as payments in trade and service enterprises. Skorobogatova also noted that while the trial will involve real consumers and real transactions, it will be limited to a certain number of customers and transactions.

She also clarified that the banks in question will choose which customers can participate in the trial, and that the digital ruble will not be available to the wider public in the first stage of the pilot. After the CBDC trial is completed, the Bank of Russia will determine how to scale the use of the digital ruble. These trials were originally scheduled to begin in 2024, but the consumer pilot was moved to an earlier date due to the economic sanctions imposed on Russia.

Russia is not the only country to launch a CBDC trial in April, with the Bank of Japan announcing a digital yen pilot program for the same month. Japan’s CBDC pilot, however, will not involve real transactions, and will be focused on continuing the work of the digital yen technical feasibility and modeling a CBDC ecosystem with the participation of private companies.

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