MOSCOW (LifeSiteNews) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill into law that will introduce a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) to the Russian economy.
According to the state-owned Russian News Agency (TASS), the digital ruble “will be issued along with existing forms of money” by the Bank of Russia, the country’s central bank.
“It will be possible to carry out transactions with the new monetary format using the digital ruble platform – a special information system,” TASS reports.
According to the bill, the digital ruble may only be used “as a means for payments and transfers,” and “does not provide for the possibility to open a bank account using digital rubles or to obtain a loan in digital rubles.”
The idea of a Russian CBDC has been floated for several years. In 2020, the Bank of Russia published its first official report on the digital ruble. Shortly before the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in February 2022, the digital ruble started its pilot phase, with several Russian banks taking part in the test run.
As the U.S. and Europe have now imposed heavy sanctions on Russia, the digital ruble might be a way to mitigate the financial restrictions the West imposed on the country. In October 2020, a spokesperson for the Bank of Russia had already talked about the potential of a CBDC to mitigate foreign sanctions and reduce Russia’s dependence on the U.S. dollar.
Although the bill gives the Russian Central Bank the possibility to start testing its CBDC on August 1, mass adoption of the digital ruble can only be expected between 2025 and 2027, the deputy chairman of the Bank of Russia has said.
According to Anatoly Asakov, a member of the National Banking Council of the Bank of Russia, the digital ruble will be programmable in a way that allows limiting the way citizens may spend the CBDC.
The head of the Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina, claimed that “[n]o one is going to force anyone into the digital ruble,” and that its use will be “absolutely voluntary.”
“But we really expect that it will be more convenient, cheaper for both people and business, and they will begin to use it,” Nabiullina said. “This is a new opportunity.”