Russia’s central bank is reportedly testing a stablecoin pegged to real estate under a regulatory sandbox program, while also looking into the potential launch of a central bank digital currency.
Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Bank of Russia, told local news outlet Interfax that under the sandbox organizations can test products and services in a limited environment without risking infringing any financial laws, as the tests are being overseen by the regulator.
Nabiullina explained the central bank is studying the nature of cryptocurrencies to find out whether they can function as a payment method or become a “money surrogate.” She was quoted as saying:
We test stablecoins in our regulatory ‘sandbox’. Companies that want to issue tokens secured by some real assets. We in the ‘sandbox’ look at how they can work, but we do not assume that they will function as a means of payment and become money surrogate.
The head of the central bank also revealed the organization is looking into potentially introducing a central bank digital currency, but before doing so needs to understand “what will be the advantages for our citizens, for business, for example,” compared to the development of a fast payment processor.
Nabiullina also revealed the Bank of Russia is considering disadvantages: if people could create a bank account directly with the central bank, commercial banks could be rendered largely redundant.
It’s worth pointing out that back in October, Nabiullina said Russia sees “no obvious need” for a national cryptocurrency, at the time claiming it was difficult to estimate the advantages it would bring to the table over non-cash payments solutions.
Earlier this month, the central bank chairperson revealed the regulator would support a ban on cryptocurrencies as it considers them too risky for investors, and believes “private cryptocurrencies cannot be equated with fiat money and cannot be legal tender.”