russia, cbdc, central bank, adoption

Source: AdobeStock / Oleg

A Russian central bank digital currency (CBDC) could be around the corner, with commercial banks in the country now being told by the central bank to prepare to handle a digital ruble within the next two years.

According to a document dated August 11 and issued by the Bank of Russia – the country’s central bank – a digital version of the ruble may become available and usable for settlement between individuals and enterprises as early as next year.

Meanwhile, by 2024, the Russian CBDC may be used to connect financial institutions to the digital ruble platform, as well as to “increase the number of payment options and transactions available using smart contracts,” the document said.

By 2025, the Bank of Russia also wants non-bank financial entities and exchanges to join in as users of the new digital currency.

According to the central bank, the CBDC is expected to reduce the costs of settlement and transactions compared to currently available methods.

The document stressed that the rollout will be gradual and careful in order to avoid missteps along the way.

“The phased process of introducing the digital ruble will provide market participants with the opportunity to adapt to new conditions,” the document said.

Per local news outlet CNews, one of the aims of the project is to increase the availability of financial services in remote areas of Russia, including in areas with limited internet access. The central bank also seeks to improve the competitiveness of the Russian economy, with plans for cooperation between Russian and foreign central banks for cross-border and foreign exchange operations, CNews wrote.

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