Russia will begin testing its in-house CBDC, the digital ruble, on Aug. 15 in partnership with 13 local banks. BlackRock insiders say a spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) could land before February, according to Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz. Meanwhile, Binance bagged a new operational license in El Salvador.
Russia to begin CBDC trials with 13 banks
The Bank of Russia (BoR) announced that it will begin testing operations for its in-house central bank digital currency (CBDC) project with digital rubles. The test will begin on August 15.
A statement released by the Bank of Russia indicates that the pilot tests will involve the participation of 13 banks and a restricted group of their clients.
The initial phase of the pilot program will focus on refining fundamental processes, including the establishment and funding of digital ruble accounts (digital wallets), digital ruble transactions among individuals, uncomplicated automated payments, and the utilization of a QR code for transactions involving purchases and services.
A spot Bitcoin ETF in the U.S. could be live in the next six months according to Galaxy Digital chief Mike Novogratz citing sources at asset managers BlackRock and Invesco.
On Galaxy’s Aug. 8 Q2 earnings call, Novogratz said its contacts from Invesco and BlackRock "get you to think that this is a question of when, not if — that the outside window is probably six months."
“This is probably [...] four to six months if you had to put a ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ on it, that the SEC is going to approve a Bitcoin ETF,” Novogratz added.
Novogratz didn’t have a comment on the expected timing of Galaxy's ETF approval, which is sitting with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
He said, however, that once a spot Bitcoin ETF is approved, issuers will be fighting for market share.
“The news of both BlackRock filing ETF and quite frankly, Invesco Plus Galaxy, we're going to fight like cats and dogs to win market share there once it gets approved.”
Other analysts think a wave of spot Bitcoin ETFs could come even sooner if Grayscale wins its case against the SEC, believing there could be simultaneous approvals for several or all currently pending spot Bitcoin ETFs.
Binance enters ‘Bitcoin country’
Bitcoin-friendly El Salvador has granted Binance a license to offer crypto services in the Central American nation, potentially opening the door to wider digital asset adoption.
On Aug. 8, Binance announced that El Salvador’s central bank approved its exchange application for a Bitcoin Services Provider license — it was also granted a Digital Asset Services Provider license by the National Commission of Digital Assets. Min Lin, who heads Binance’s Latin America operations, said the Salvadoran licensing process took “many months” to complete.
El Salvador fully embraced Bitcoin in 2021 after it became the first country to recognize the digital asset as legal tender. The Salvadoran government has described BTC as a tool to attract foreign direct investment, create new jobs and reduce reliance on the United States dollar.
Binance sold USDC for BTC and ETH after Silvergate Bank collapse: PoR report
Binance’s latest proof-of-reserves (PoR) from Aug. 1 revealed that the crypto exchange converted its USD Coin reserves into Bitcoin and Ether right after the collapse of Silvergate Bank.
Binance started converting customers’ USDC to Binance USD in September internally, but at the time, it did hold a significant amount of USDC in its reserves as well.
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