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Alexander Razuvaev, a Russian economist and writer, has suggested that Russia is moving towards implementing Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) for pension payments. Speaking to Pro Blast, Razuvaev said:

“Gradually, [conventional] pensions will be replaced with payments made in digital rubles. In the near future, this is most likely inevitable. So, little by little, pensioners are being driven into the Central Bank’s trap. They are being encouraged to switch to a new type of money.”

He believes this trend towards CBDC adoption will intensify due to technological advancements.

Concerns Over Government Control and Financial Freedom

Critics have expressed apprehensions about the Russian government’s approach to CBDCs. There’s a growing unease about potential government overreach in financial matters, with the Central Bank perceived as attempting to dominate the economy. The government’s discussions about issuing “colored” digital ruble payments to curb fraud in child benefits and subsidies have added to these concerns.

Additionally, the finance ministry’s plans to experiment with CBDC social security payments this year, with a full-scale launch expected in 2025, have heightened worries about increased governmental monitoring of citizens.

The simultaneous rollout of the CBDC and Moscow’s initiative to gather biometric data has only fueled suspicions, despite the Central Bank’s assurance that these are separate projects.

Progress Towards CBDC Pension Payments

In 2023, legislation was passed in Russia authorizing the distribution of digital ruble pensions. However, the practical implementation of these payments for citizens is still pending.

Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina has emphasized the voluntary nature of these digital ruble pension payments, stating:

“The Central Bank only advocates the voluntary transfer of pensions to digital ruble wallets. This is our position on the matter.”

Nabiullina cited the success of the MIR card payment system, launched in 2017 for electronic fund transfers, which later facilitated pension payments. She highlighted the choice given to pensioners to receive their pensions in cash, bank transfers, or checks, drawing parallels to the potential CBDC pension scheme.