Russia’s central bank named 12 banks that will be involved in the initial testing of the nation’s future central bank digital currency (CBDC), the digital ruble, the regulator announced Wednesday.

The list includes the largest credit organizations of Russia, including Sberbank, VTB, Alfa Bank, Gazprombank and Tinkoff.

Previously, the Bank of Russia said it was planning to develop a prototype of the digital ruble by December and start piloting it next year. It’s not clear yet if the project will be built on a blockchain, and, if so, on which one. The initial concept of the digital ruble, published in October 2020, did not mention specific technological solutions and provided a list of options of how the project should be implemented.

The project rattled Russia’s banking community because the banks were worried about the potential centralized design of the CBDC, which would mean direct competition between them and the central bank for Russian accounts.

Bank of Russia Chair Elvira Nabiullina brushed off those concerns last year, saying the digital ruble would not be not a threat for commercial banks. Still, the concept was then modified to sooth the banks’ fears, giving them the role of intermediaries, opening digital ruble accounts for users on behalf of the Bank of Russia.

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