Russia’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) project, the digital ruble, has taken a step closer to reality.
On July 11, the lower chamber of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the State Duma, passed the digital ruble bill in the third reading.
The legislation now moves to the assembly’s upper chamber, the Federation Council, and, if passed, to the president’s desk.
The bill, which was last amended at the end of June, sets the legal definitions of “platform, ” participants,” and “users,” as well as the general guidelines for the CBDC ecosystem.
In the current framework, Russia’s central bank, the Bank of Russia (BoR), will become the principal operator of the digital ruble infrastructure. It also bears the responsibility for all the stored assets.
The main aim of the CBDC, according to the BoR, is to serve as a payment and transfer method. Hence, its users won’t be able to open savings accounts. As the BoR emphasizes, payments and transfers would be free for individual customers and cost 0.3% of the payment amount for corporate clients.
The bill was introduced to the State Duma in December 2022 and passed through its first reading in March 2023. In February, a subsidiary of the leading Russian government-owned gas company, Gazprombank, warned against possible risks for banks in the case of the fast transition to digital money. The Russian branch of McKinsey estimated the potential losses of traditional banks from the CBDC implementation at around 250 billion rubles ($3.5 billion) in five years. At the same time, the consultancy firm estimated retailers’ profit at $1.1 billion yearly.
In a recent interview, the deputy chairman of the central bank, Olga Skorobogatova, announced the mass rollout of the digital ruble for all Russian citizens by 2027. The CBDC will be tested in a pilot program between 2023 and 2024.