Russian banks will have the opportunity to question the Central Bank regarding its digital ruble pilot next month. The Central Bank faced backlash from certain sectors of the banking industry after initiating “real-world” transactions with its CBDC. Sberbank and Tinkoff Bank withdrew from the pilot at the last minute without disclosing the reasons. The Association of Banks of Russia (ASROS), the largest banking industry group in Russia, wrote to the Central Bank requesting guarantees about the CBDC’s future. ASROS stated that its members’ customers were skeptical of the CBDC. ASROS will get answers during its “international banking” forum in Sochi next month, where Central Bank officials, including Governor Elvira Nabiullina, will attend. Nabiullina, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and a strong crypto skeptic, is the chief architect of the digital ruble.

Central Bank’s Digital Ruble Plan: Russian Banks ‘Wary’

Nabiullina aims to expedite the nationwide launch of the digital ruble “by 2025-2027,” which has worried many commercial banks. The ASROS forum will include a round table session titled “The Digital Ruble: Future or Reality?” Chaired by Georgy Luntovsky, President of ASROS, the session will enable attendees to question Alla Bakina, Director of the Central Bank’s National Payment System Department, and other Central Bank officials. Promsvyazbank (PSB) and Center-Invest Bank executives will also have the opportunity to raise their concerns with Bakina.

A branch of Promsvyazbank (PSB) in Moscow, Russia. (Source: Brateevsky [CC BY-SA 4.0])

According to Interfax, the Central Bank is expected to discuss the preliminary “results” of the pilot and its vision for the “future stages of the [CBDC’s] development.” Luntovsky expressed his anticipation for an open conversation with the Central Bank about the pilot’s first stage results and an opportunity for banks to address their concerns related to the CBDC. The forum is scheduled for September 27-30. PSB customers were the first non-bank employees in Russia to use the digital ruble this month, with one of the bank’s clients using it to pay for education-related B2C services.


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