The bank began piloting its CBDC just over a month ago in 11 cities nationwide.
Russian MPs last year voted in a law that allows banks and state agencies to collect biometric data on their clients.
This data includes facial scans and fingerprints.
This gave rise to the Unified Biometric System (UBS), which the Kremlin and banks will use as a national digital remote identification platform.
A Russian man submits biometric data to the Unified Biometric System (UBS) database. (Source: Pyerviy Kanal/Screenshot)
But the two projects appear to have been conflated by many observers.
And that has given rise to a spate of digital ruble and biometrics-themed fraudsters.
Last month, multiple regions warned that their citizens had been targetted with emails and phone calls from apparent scammers.
Many of these alleged scammers asked potential victims to submit biometric data in order to convert their cash ruble savings to CBDC tokens.
Per the state-run TV network Channel One (Pyerviy Kanal), Elvira Nabiullina, the Governor of the Russian Central Bank, said that the digital ruble “has nothing to do with biometrics.”
Elvira Nabiullina, the Governor of the Russian Central Bank, speaking about the digital ruble project at a press conference on September 15. (Source: Tass/X)
“Biometrics and the digital ruble are two projects that are absolutely unrelated to each other. The use of the digital ruble does not involve the mandatory use of biometrics. Both projects – the UBS biometrics submission and the use of the digital ruble – are completely voluntary. This is our principled position on the matter.”
Nabiullina also noted that while “submitting biometric data” was “a voluntary decision for Russian citizens,” over 50 million people had come forward to hand over their data thus far.
The Deputy Head of the Russian Ministry of Digital Development’s Digital Identification Technology Department, Yuri Shabano, claimed that “less than 1%” of people had thus far “refused” to submit their biometric data.