The rollout of The Bank of Russia’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot is being delayed for an indefinite period. Although all the participants, at least from the banking side, reassure of their readiness to begin the testing. 

As reported by the state-owned TASS on March 28, the CBDC pilot won’t start on April 1, as was previously announced, due to the fact that certain legislation has passed only through the first reading in the Russian Parliament, Duma. According to TASS, the legislation may be finally enacted by early May.

The number of private banks that will be participating in the pilot has also changed from 15 to 13. It is known that some of the banks’ workers would become the test participants for CBDC retail payments, as well as one of the largest insurance companies in the country, Ingosstrakh.

The bank executives expressed their enthusiasm for the project. As one of them, the director of innovations at Sinara bank, Vitaly Kopysov, has told journalists:

“The use of smart contracts should reduce the operational load of banks and make the deals transparent, which not only will reduce the chances of the misuse of government and banks’ funds, but ultimately simplify the control over the existing contracts.”

The upcoming pilot will involve real operations and consumers, limited in scale. General customers would not be able to participate in the first stage, as the banks will enter the pilot with chosen customers. Following the first stage, the Bank of Russia intends to determine how to scale the digital ruble further. 

Related: European Banking Federation shares its vision of digital euro, wCBDC, bank tokens

Initially scheduled for 2024, the consumer CBDC pilot was moved to an earlier date as the Russian central bank was looking for an alternative to the SWIFT payments system amid Western economic sanctions against Russia.

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