MOSCOW, 22 Jan – PRIME. On January 21, the Association of Russian Banks hosted a discussion on the consequences of the digital ruble introduction. Disputes unfolded both around the very need for the implementation of this project, and around the possible ways of its implementation and consequences. However, on a more mundane level, the participants in the discussion were concerned about such issues as the cost of the project, who will bear the costs and whether it will be possible to recoup them. According to preliminary estimates, the banks’ costs will amount to tens of billions of rubles, although the Central Bank believes that they will be able to make money on intermediary operations. This was reported by Kommersant. Experts named the main advantage of the digital ruble According to the description in the advisory report of the Central Bank, the digital ruble is the third version of the Russian currency, combining the properties of non-cash (online payments) and cash (offline payments). Currently, two options for introducing the digital ruble are being considered. In model C, the regulator opens and maintains customers’ wallets on the Central Bank digital currency platform. Banks and other financial organizations act only as intermediaries. In model D, the Central Bank opens the wallet to the bank, and the bank already opens the wallet to the client. As Viktor Dostov, chairman of the Association of Electronic Money and Money Transfer Market Participants, noted in his report, China has the task of increasing accessibility for a large foreign diaspora. In Africa, in the absence of a banking infrastructure, there is a need for an offline digital currency. Iran and Venezuela need digital currency as an anti-sanction tool. In the EU, digital currency is needed to combat the threat from cryptocurrencies, private payment systems and bigtechs. Dostov is confident that in Russia, before deciding on the implementation of the digital ruble, it is necessary to understand what tasks it should solve and whether it is possible to solve them with existing tools … At the same time, questions arise about financing the project and who will bear the costs. As the expert points out, the presented concept does not describe the mechanisms for financing the project. According to a representative of a large bank, in order to adapt the payment infrastructure to work with the digital ruble, both software and hardware will have to be modernized. “The more various services the bank provides, the more it will have to incur the cost of upgrading,” the source said. According to Sberbank, only ensuring the security of using the digital ruble will cost the Central Bank and banks 25 billion rubles. According to an interlocutor in a bank from the top 20, the costs for a large credit institution will amount to hundreds of millions of rubles. For the entire banking system, this will amount to tens of billions of rubles. According to Vitaly Kopysov, Director for Innovation at SKB Bank, it would be logical to launch a digital ruble project on the existing payment system of the Bank of Russia. “This solution will significantly reduce implementation costs, as well as risks in settlements. At the same time, banks can become intermediaries through the already implemented digital customer service channels,” he said. The head of the Eleksnet group of companies (part of the MKB group) Igor Antonov believes that it will be possible to calculate the necessary costs and the payback period as soon as the guidelines for this project appear. Other participants in the discussion also draw attention to the fact that the speed of implementation of the digital ruble will largely depend on whether banks will see a return on their upcoming investments. However, according to the Bank of Russia, it is too early to talk about the cost of the project. “As for bank fees, models C and D assume a two-tier system. It is banks and financial intermediaries who will serve clients, interact with them, maintain accounts and conduct transactions on wallets on behalf of clients. And they will be able to build a tariff policy in a competitive field.” , – summed up in the Central Bank.