Russian mobile network operators Beeline and Megafon are considering providing wallet and other services for a possible digital ruble, the Izvestia newspaper reported Tuesday.

  • The companies are “interested” in developing a digital wallet that would link the central bank digital currency (CBDC) to users’ mobile phone numbers.
  • A Beeline representative said the Bank of Russia’s current concept for a CBDC makes no provision for maintaining wallets on smart devices.
  • According the report, Megafon and Beeline are interested in how peer-to-peer (P2P) payment transactions could be performed on- and offline without the involvement of financial institutions.
  • “We are interested in such aspects of using the digital ruble as maintaining wallets on smart devices … not just providing a link between the client and the central bank or financial intermediary,” the Beeline representative said.
  • In October 2020, the Bank of Russia started a series of consultations around the potential launch of the digital ruble, with a pilot possibly coming this year.
  • Concerns have been raised about a centralized CBDC that disintermediates retail banks and brings them into competition with the central bank for consumers’ deposits.