Russia intends to use its digital ruble, to be introduced early next year, for payments with its key ally, China. Authorities in Moscow hope other nations will be willing to adopt the Russian digital currency in trade, which will allow the country to circumvent sanctions imposed over the Ukraine war.
Russian Federation Eyes Digital Ruble for Payments in Trade With China
The Central Bank of Russia is gearing up to launch settlements with the digital ruble, the new incarnation of the Russian fiat currency that’s now being tested, as early as 2023. According to a statement by a prominent member of the lower house of Russian parliament, the sanctioned nation wants to use it in payments with China, which has become Russia’s main trading partner.
Limited access to the global financial system due to financial restrictions introduced in response to its military invasion of Ukraine is forcing Russia to seek alternative means for foreign trade transactions. Alongside cryptocurrencies, the digital ruble is one of the options Moscow is considering in its efforts to bypass the sanctions.
“The topic of digital financial assets, the digital ruble and cryptocurrencies is currently intensifying in the society, as Western countries are imposing sanctions and creating problems for bank transfers, including in international settlements,” the head of the Financial Market Committee at the State Duma, Anatoly Aksakov, recently told the Parlamentskaya Gazeta newspaper.
The high-ranking lawmaker elaborated that the digital direction is key because financial flows can circumvent systems controlled by unfriendly nations. He added the next step for the central bank digital currency (CBDC) issued by the Bank of Russia would be to introduce it in mutual settlements with China. Also quoted by Reuters, Aksakov emphasized:
If we launch this, then other countries will begin to actively use it going forward, and America’s control over the global financial system will effectively end.
With the loss of markets in the West, including for energy exports, the importance of cooperation with China has increased significantly for Russia. Trade between the two countries has expanded and Russian companies have started issuing debt in Chinese yuan. Beijing is currently conducting domestic trials of its digital version, the e-CNY, and plans to use it in cross-border settlements, too.
Russia is preparing to adopt comprehensive regulations for its crypto market in the coming months, including a new bill “On Digital Currency” that will expand the legal framework established last year by the law “on Digital Financial Assets.” Russian regulators are already developing a mechanism for international crypto payments and the respective draft provisions have been already agreed upon by the central bank and the finance ministry.