How Russia and China are moving forward with their CBDC projects

Among nations in hot pursuit of a digital currency of their own, Russia is in the news again. Its central bank announced plans to start testing a pilot version of the digital ruble by the end of 2022. Bank of Russia’s Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank Alexey Zabotkin said that users can expect a prototype of the digital ruble by the end of this year. This version will not be able to support real transactions and will only serve as a testing ground. 

Based on this prototype, including refinement, the central bank of Russia intends to start rolling out trial rounds by next year. By 1 April, the bank expects to prepare a concept for the selected model of the digital ruble.

Bank of Russia has been involved in much exploratory work in the course of launching a CBDC, from holding key meetings with major banks to seeking feedback on the prospects of introducing the digital Ruble. The central bank reached out to the country’s banking community to hear their concerns. 

Previously, the Bank of Russia had proposed that the digital Ruble should combine capabilities of cash and non-cash currency. It expects to allow online payments to be made remotely as well as offline purchases. The bank could even develop “special technologies” that will make it possible to use the digital Ruble in the absence of an Internet connection. 

Meanwhile, China, which has been equally eager to launch a digital currency of its own, has taken yet another leap in this project. Recently, two major banks in China facilitated digital yuan pilot trials at some Shanghai-based department stores.

The Bank of Communications and China Construction Bank conducted the e-yuan transactions which were accepted by New World City and New World Daimaru Department Store, and food caterer Taikang Food Store. According to reports, the local retail outlets handled “several thousand virtual yuan transactions over the weekend.” 

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