In June this year, Olga Skorobogatova, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia, stated that “regulators of all countries have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to do a national virtual currency,” adding that each country would have to “decide the issue of a specific time and maturity independently.”
Skorobogatova made this statement at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) 2017, where, in an interesting coincidence, Russian president Vladimir Putin met with Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin. It wasn’t clear what the two discussed during their meeting at the time, but in August, an RT report suggested that Buterin was working “to adopt the blockchain technology in Russia.”
It seems that, for Russia, the time to introduce a digital Ruble has come. Details remain scarce, but according to CoinTelegraph, citing local news reports, Russia’s Minister of Communications and Mass Media, Nikolay Nikiforov, has revealed a few crumbs of information about the country’s new digital currency.
CryptoRuble appears to be the name of this state-issued digital currency; but it seems to be more of an attempt at utilizing the blockchain technology, rather than a cryptocurrency with privacy in mind. As per the reports, Nikiforov states that the digital currency cannot be mined and is instead centralized, with the Russian state being the sole issuer, making it quite different from the popular decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Rubles and CryptoRubles will also be interchangeable, with the Russian government allowing an equivalent exchange of the two at any time, albeit with a few caveats. If one is unable to explain the source of their CryptoRubles during an exchange, the Russian government would levy a 13 percent tax on the amount. Additionally, if CryptoRuble’s value appreciates compared to Rubles, the same tax will also be levied on the difference between the two.
As for why this move is being made now, Nikiforov had, per the report, this to say:
“I confidently declare that we run CryptoRuble for one simple reason: if we do not, then after 2 months our neighbors in the EurAsEC will.”
As this develops, further details would be made clear, but one thing seems certain: CryptoRuble, and other digital currencies like it, wouldn't be an alternative to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, as the state would still maintain centralized control over its value and flow.