Economist Stan Yurchenko Talks about the Prospects of the Digital Ruble

The other day the Bank of Russia announced that they are working on launching the so-called digital ruble: an additional format of Russian national currency that is to be emitted digitally. The product is scheduled for testing in 2022 and to do that a prototype of the new currency platform will be presented by the end of this year. The experts, however, express reservations about the project.

According to Stan Yurchenko, an economist, results of the published public opinion polls raise doubts as to the fast and successful carrying out of the project. According to Stan Yurchenko, only 14% of those surveyed by the Centre for Research in Financial Technologies and Digital Economy SKOLKOVO NES are ready to use digital currency, while 38% expressed a negative opinion.

“You can talk about the conservative nature of Russians as much as you like, but people have no trust in a currency that you cannot hold in your hand, especially after the financial experiments and crises of the last thirty years,” noted Stan Yurchenko. According to him, the social group that uses digital products the most, residents of large cities 18 to 50 years old, will still be wary of this product, even if there is a major informational campaign.

One of the snags of the project, according to Stan Yurchenko, may be the ‘color coding’ of the national currency. “There is a concept of ‘color’ in banking; that is, labeling of payment purposes. Let’s say, if you receive a thousand rubles in your digital wallet for utilities payments, you cannot just spend it on buying groceries; there is a ‘safeguard’ in the system that will show inappropriate use of funds,” explained the expert. Thus, according to Stan Yurchenko, for a large percentage of population, introduction of a digital ruble may mean yet another step towards total control of income and expenses.

“You should realize that the trust of the population in state financial institutions in Russia is quite low; by default, people simply believe that officials want to pick their pockets. Talking about convenience and modernity of the digital ruble in this case only convinces the population that this is so,” concluded Stan Yurchenko.

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