In Russia, the regulator announced today that the Russian central bank has identified 12 banks that will take part in the first test of the country’s future central bank digital currency (CBDC) digital ruble.

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The list includes Russia’s largest credit institutions, including Sberbank, VTB, Alfa Bank, Gazprombank and Tinkoff.

Earlier, the Central Bank of Russia said it plans to develop a prototype of the digital ruble by December and begin testing it next year. It is not yet clear whether the project will be built on a blockchain, and if so on which. The first digital ruble concept, published in October 2020, did not mention specific technological solutions and provided a list of options for how the project should be implemented.

The project shook Russia’s banking community as banks worried about the CBDC’s potential centralized design; this would mean direct competition between them and the central bank for Russian accounts.

Elvira Nabiullina, Governor of Russia’s Central Bank, dispelled these concerns last year, saying that the digital ruble would not be a threat to commercial banks. However, the concept was modified to placate banks’ fears, giving them the role of intermediaries, opening digital ruble accounts for users on behalf of the Central Bank of Russia.