Russia’s central bank will make the digital ruble pilot program bigger in September

In September, the Russian Central Bank will ultimately broaden the scope of its digital ruble pilot, thereby increasing the reach of its CBDC by “tens of times.”

According to Pravda, the digital ruble will be available to “actual consumers with real money” beginning September 1 in the new “phase” of the pilot.

Olga Skorobogatova, the bank’s First Deputy Governor, made the following statement at the Russian Financial Congress:

“We are broadening our pilot program to include actual transactions beginning on September 1. […] 12 institutions are currently participating in the pilot. Additionally, 19 additional individuals are currently in the process of enrolling in the pilot program. We aim to substantially expand the number of companies and individuals eligible to participate in the pilot.”

The bank initiated its CBDC pilot just over a year ago, with approximately 600 designated individuals in 11 Russian cities participating.

Despite the integration of the Moscow Metro and a limited number of significant institutions, the pilot has only experienced minor expansion since its inception.

The Central Bank announced several months ago that it would broaden its pilot network to include a “second cohort of institutions.”

Nevertheless, the Central Bank declined to establish a timetable for this expansion. Skorobogatova and other senior bank officials have previously declared their intention to implement the CBDC on a nationwide scale by the conclusion of 2025.

Skorobogatova also stated that the Central Bank has received a “significant number of applications and requests” from citizens and enterprises throughout the country to utilize the digital ruble.

Skorobogatova declared that she “believes” that the digital ruble initiative will “develop rapidly in the second half of 2024 and next year.”

Afterward, the Central Bank provided a clarification of Skorobogatova’s statement. It further stated that the pilot would be “expanded to 9,000 individuals and 1,200 legal entities” later this year.

Earlier this year, the Central Bank announced that its commercial banking partners have supervised “approximately 19,000” peer-to-peer CBDC transactions.

In addition to “3,5000 smart contract transactions,” the bank stated that pilot users have made “about 6,000 payments” with the digital ruble.

The Central Bank continues to advocate for the prohibition of crypto exchanges in Russia as part of its initiative to prevent tokens from entering the national economy.

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