Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are currently developing a common payment system designed to be used from any of the five countries with their local currencies, reports East-West Digital News (EWDN).
The Russian newspaper Izvestia has described some details of this project based on exchanges with representatives of the Russian sovereign fund RDIF and the Russian Bank Association, which are involved via the BRICS Business Council.
Dubbed ‘BRICS Pay,’ the system could take the form of a digital wallet for retail purchases and money transfers via a mobile app. The app could have many similarities with such systems Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, Izvestia was told. A pilot project is expected to start in South Africa in April.
Given the instability of the international financial markets and the US dollar, payment system integration across the five countries is an official priority of this BRICS coordinating body. The concerned governments are expected to agree their technical strategy for this common payment system and test it in the near future, according to Russian participants.
The RDIF press service confirmed that “the fund and its portfolio companies are taking an active part in the BRICS Pay project,” with the support of RDIF partners from China and India, which are bringing their expertise and technologies. The fund is “ready to participate” in the financing of the initiative.
Central bank and Ministry of Finance not involved However, such key Russian financial institutions as the central bank, the National Payment Cards System (NSPK) and the Ministry of Finance do not seem to be involved or even aware yet of the project, as shown by their exchanges with Izvestia.
In a separate process, the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia – are considering creating jointly a digital currency in 2020 or 2021, as reported by East-West Digital News a few months ago.
The national payment systems of these countries are in the process of getting more integrated. Thus, Belarus’s Belkart and Russia’s MIR have just inked an agreement to let cardholders use these cards in either country indifferently. Designed as an alternative to Visa or Mastercard, MIR cards are also expected to be accepted in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Izvestia reported.