Per the news agency Tass, the comments came from Anatoly Aksakov, the head of the State Duma Committee on the Financial Markets.
Aksakov told the agency that “digital national currencies” would aid the “rapidly growing trade turnover of Russian and Chinese companies.” Aksakov said:
“It is true that that [CBDC transactions may take place] as early as next year […] with China. They have their digital yuan, we have our digital ruble.”
Aksakov is the chief architect of Russia’s crypto and CBDC legislation. He is seen as something of a go-between for pro-business government ministries and the Central Bank.
🇨🇳 Chinese Cities Launch End-of-Year Digital Yuan Giveaways
— Cryptonews.com (@cryptonews) December 8, 2023
The bank itself has been more guarded in its statements on cross-border CBDC trade, insisting that its pilot is still in its early stages.
But Aksakov is more bullish and has already claimed that the digital RUB and the e-CNY may be “compatible.”
Moscow and Beijing have both been attempting to de-dollarize their respective trade sectors for several years.
Both hope that fast-tracked CBDC pilots will help boost the international appeal of the ruble and the yuan.
China has been using the yuan as a payment tool in most of its oil purchases from Russia in 2023.
Russia’s use of Chinese currency for at least a fifth of its imports illustrates both Moscow’s increasing reliance on Beijing and its efforts to evade western sanctions https://t.co/BqwRfXUXuL
— Financial Times (@FT) September 27, 2023
Beyond China: Is Russia Looking for More CBDC Partners?
Earlier this month, the Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina traveled with President Vladimir Putin on a state visit to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
The visit came days after the Central Bank announced that “together with the UAE regulator,” it was exploring CBDC cooperation.
The bank said it was co-building a “digital ruble-powered fast payments and settlements platform for Russian and Emeriti “citizens and businesses.”
The Central Bank said that its solution would likely be ready in around a year.
As an economist, Elvira Nabiullina has a long track record of saving Russia from sanctions and keeping the economy afloat, Natalia Antonova writes. https://t.co/6k101Qoqyl
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) December 13, 2023
Analysts have speculated that Nabiullina spoke to Emirati and Saudi counterparts about dollar-free trading.
Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been invited to join the BRICS trading bloc.
BRICS members have repeatedly discussed the idea of launching a single digital currency.
The Russian Central Bank’s First Deputy Governor Olga Skorobogatova also said that she expects the launch of a “new cross-border system” that makes use of the digital ruble.
The Central Bank has refused to fix a precise date for its CBDC rollout. It insists (contrary to Ministry of Finance assertions) that the coin will not be ready for “mass” use before 2025.