The lower house of the Russian Parliament, the State Duma, has approved a draft law that paves the way for the introduction of the digital ruble as a legal tender.
The legislation amends various other acts to introduce definitions and establish procedures related to the launch of the central bank digital currency.
Amendments to the National Payment System law
The draft law, which was submitted to the State Duma by a group of deputies and senators led by the chair of the Financial Market Committee, Anatoly Aksakov, proposes amendments to the National Payment System law.
The amendments will include legal definitions related to the digital ruble, such as “participant of the digital ruble platform” and “user of the digital ruble platform.”
It also assigns the role of the sole operator to the Central Bank of Russia (CBR), which will guarantee its safe functioning.
Securing the status of the digital ruble
The bill also amends the law on Currency Regulation and Currency Control to secure the status of the digital ruble as a currency of the Russian Federation and defines the digital currencies of other central banks as foreign currencies.
The proposed legislation grants the CBR powers to process personal data without obtaining user consent and without notifying the body responsible for the protection of such information. This will be done through changes to the federal law “On Personal Data.”
Consumer pilot for the digital ruble
The Bank of Russia plans to start testing the digital ruble with real users and transactions on April 1, 2023, and aims for a full launch in 2024.
The first consumer pilot for the nation’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) will be rolled out by the Bank of Russia on April 1, 2023, as part of preparations for this day.
According to the first deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank, Olga Skorobogatova, the Bank of Russia is getting ready to launch the first real-world digital ruble transactions very soon.
These transactions will include 13 local banks and many retailers. The future CBDC pilot will include genuine activities and real consumers in Russia, but it will be restricted to a set amount of transactions and clients.
Evaluation of the pilot program
Regular consumers will not be allowed to participate in the pilot in the first stage, as banks will begin the pilot with clients who have been picked in advance.
After the first stage of the pilot program is completed, the Bank of Russia intends to evaluate how to further grow the digital ruble.
The most recent declaration made by Skorobogatova is in line with the implementation strategy for the digital ruble that was publicly presented by the central bank in June 2022.
Due to Western economic sanctions against Russia, the consumer CBDC pilot was pushed up to a date that was originally planned for 2024 but was brought up to an earlier date because the Russian central bank was seeking an alternative to the SWIFT payments system.