Putin signs law on introduction of digital ruble in Russia

Russia is moving forward with its central bank digital currency (CBDC), after President Vladimir Putin signed the digital ruble bill into law on July 24 according to an official document published by the state.

With this approval, the digital ruble law is now officially scheduled to take effect from Aug. 1, 2023, with all but one rule ready to be enforced.

The article number 3 — which includes amendments to several Russian federal laws including those related to bankruptcy and inheritance — is expected to take effect from August next year.

The new legislation officially empowers the Russian central bank to launch the first CBDC pilot with real consumers in August. Previously, the government expected to roll out trials in April in collaboration with 13 local banks, including heavyweights like Sberbank.

According to the newly signed law, Russia’s central bank will be the principal operator of the digital ruble infrastructure and will hold the responsibility for all the stored assets. The digital ruble is designed to serve as a payment and money transfer method, and does not provide for investment purposes.

The digital ruble is expected to act as the third form of money alongside cash and non-cash ruble. Russian citizens will not be forced to use the CBDC and use of the digital ruble will be a voluntary choice left up to individuals to decide, Bank of Russia governor Elvira Nabiullina reportedly declared on July 24. She stated:

“No one is going to force anyone into the digital ruble […] But we really hope that it will be more convenient and cheaper for both people and businesses, and they will start using it. This is a new opportunity.”

According to Bank of Russia deputy governor Olga Skorobogatova, the government doesn’t expect mass adoption of the digital ruble in Russia before 2025 or even 2027.

Related: Russian CBDC by 2025? What’s happening with the digital ruble

The news comes soon after Russia’s State Duma — the country’s lower parliament house — passed the digital bill in the third final reading on July 11. The bill was subsequently approved by the Federation Council, or Senate, on July 19. According to official records, the digital ruble bill was originally registered in December 2022.

Latest developments in the digital ruble bill. Source: Russia’s legislative activity system

While quickly progressing with CBDC legislation, Russian lawmakers have continued to postpone the introduction of cryptocurrency regulation, following a series of delays in the past.

In May, State Duma official Anatoly Aksakov once again promised to pass four bills related to crypto mining, taxation and international settlement crypto, though this doesn’t seem to have progressed much since.

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