Some have called it the new space race.

Countries around the world are moving more quickly to research, pilot and issue CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies).

And news from Russia and India, two BRICS countries in a monetary alliance that serves as an alternate to the U.S. backed SWIFT system, shows how BRICS is moving faster than the West to CBDCs.

Russia announced this past week that a digital ruble will be introduced in 2023, and more widely implemented starting in 2024.

Experts are predicting the move will drive more income to retailers, who will save on payment fees, while Russia’s banking industry might lose 700 million annually.

There was wide ranging speculation concerning Russia’s announcement, and how it might affect consumers, and commerce in the country.

Some argued consumers would be hurt because digital rubles wouldn’t earn interest like money held in bank accounts.

But that view assumes people holding digital rubles wouldn’t have the ability to seek their own ways to utilize digital rubles to earn interest if they desired, depending on what DeFi style options might be in the offing.

A September 2022 Reuters article noted some geopolitical ramifications of the digital ruble. Russia plans to utilize it in settlements with China, weakening the power of the U.S. and allied western countries to punish the country with sanctions, over the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

India Digital Rupee Gets Boost From Major Retailer

India, another BRICS nation, made CBDC related news for an announcement by Reliance Retail, that they would accept the digital rupee for payment of goods during its pilot test phase.

Reliance is collaborating with Innoviti Technologies and payment partners Kotak Mahindra Bank and ICICI Bank to accept the digital currency according to Coindesk.

“This historic initiative of pioneering the digital currency acceptance at our stores is in line with the company’s strategic vision of offering the power of choice to Indian consumer,” Reliance Retail managing director V. Subramaniam commented, according to Coindesk.

India and China, two nations leading a push to CBDCs, both also happen to have some of the most restrictive cryptocurrency laws.

Speaking to CNBC in India on 3 February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman pushed global standards for crypto. Obviously, India’s harsh stance against cryptos has caused innovation to flow elsewhere.

Sitharaman said India was seeking a global standard, as it was getting ready to host an upcoming meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors later this month, Cointelegraph reported.

“Regulation cannot be done by any one country singularly, it has to be a collective action because technology doesn’t group any borders,” Sitharaman told CNBC.

Overall, the movement of BRICS nations to develop and deploy CBDCs is viewed by some as part of a strategy to move beyond the U.S. dominated SWIFT international currency interchange and payments system.

Brazil, another BRICS member, also recently announced a CBDC project it was developing in conjunction with Argentina. 

Will BRICS nations snooker the West into adopting a “China—India” crackdown strategy on cryptos, while beating them in CBDC rollouts?

Good question.

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