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Russia ‘Should Scrap Digital Rubles Buying Limit for Foreigners,’ Says Top MP

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read
A close-up view of Russian banknotes.
Source: Stockfotos-MG/Adobe

A Russian political chief thinks the Central Bank could scrap caps on the amount of digital ruble tokens foreigners are allowed to buy – a move that could allow non-Russians to buy “millions” of CBDC coins.

Per Interfax, the comments were made by the long-serving head of the State Duma’s Committee on the Financial Markets Anatoly Aksakov on a TV channel run by the nation’s parliament.

Earlier this year, Elvira Nabiullina, the Governor of the Central Bank, announced that digital ruble users would only be able to top up their digital ruble wallets with a maximum of 300,000 rubles (currently around $3,070) per month.

Nabiullina stated at the time that the caps would apply to both Russian citizens and non-residents.

She apparently made the declaration in a bid to halt potential supply issues.

But Aksakov said that if the bank scraps this cap “for foreigners,” the move would “simplify” the process for those making “foreign investment in Russia.”

He added that the move would also facilitate the process for non-residents wishing to buy Russian digital financial assets (DFAs).

DFA is a catch-all term used by Russian politicians to speak about digitized commodities and digital securities.

Aksakov stated that lawmakers had recently created legislation that “allows foreign organizations, including banks, to identify foreign clients.”

He said:

“These [foreign] clients can operate on [Russian] stock markets and, among other things, purchase digital securities […] [and] digital rubles. So I would remove restrictions for foreigners so that they can spend millions.”

Prior to the launch last month of the digital ruble’s “real-world” pilot, the bank was keen to impose strict caps.

These, Interfax noted, were imposed “in order to minimize the risks of fraud and assess the impact of the digital ruble on the liquidity of the banking sector.”

But the bank appears to have changed its tone in recent weeks, stating:

“The introduction of limits on transactions conducted in digital rubles may have a negative impact on the development of services and products that use the capabilities of the digital ruble.”

The bank noted that some sectors, such as the commercial and industrial may “need to use significant amounts [of digital ruble tokens]” in their operations.

The Russian lawmaker Anatoly Aksakov speaking on a mobile phone, photographed in 2021.
Russian lawmaker Anatoly Aksakov, photographed in 2021. (Source: Duma.gov.ru [CC BY 4.0])

Why Might Russia Ditch CBDC Buying Cap for Foreigners?

The comments likely mean some senior Russian policymakers hope the launch of the digital ruble will encourage overseas investors to return to the nation’s energy resource markets.

Aksakov has previously backed DFAs to reinvigorate the Russian economy.

Earlier this year, he claimed that Bitcoin (BTC) had no future, and instead urged people to “invest in Russian DFAs that are starting to appear on the market.”

In 2020, the mining giant Norilsk Nickel partnered with two international exploration and mining companies to issue the nation’s first metal contract-backed, blockchain-powered digital tokens.

In May, Aksakov said that in 2023, he “expected” to see “a serious intensification of the issuance of DFAs backed by the ruble.”