Today in Crypto: Bank of Russia Pilots CBDC; Latin American Venture Capital Crypto Investments Hit $653M in 2021

Bank of Russia, CBDC, digital ruble, cryptocurrency

The Bank of Russia is debuting a pilot stage for its digital ruble, the central bank digital currency (CBDC) it’s got in the works, CoinDesk reported Wednesday (Feb. 16).

This will have to be an alternative to crypto for Russians, according to the regulator — crypto, by contrast, should be “totally banned.”

Three banks have already supported pilot transactions using mobile apps, along with gateways to exchange rubles from their accounts for the digital version — and nine more are planning on joining, too.

The central bank’s opposition to crypto has held firm, with the regulator calling it a “de-facto Ponzi scheme” which only allows for an illusion of government protection.

Meanwhile, the Formula 1 team for Red Bull has signed a sponsorship with Singaporean crypto exchange Bybit, according to a Wednesday press release.

The deal is the biggest per-annum crypto venture yet on the international sport scene, the company said, and will be worth $50 million per year for three years.

Bybit will now join the Oracle Red Bull team and will be issuing fan tokens and helping grow the Formula 1 digital assets.

In other news, the Argentinian inflation rate has hit 50%, spurring crypto exchange Lemon Cash to bolster its issuance of bitcoin rewards cards to 3 million in 2022.

According to a Bloomberg report, the Visa cards convert the amount of the crypto from the user’s account into pesos to make payments. There were originally 100,000 cards, and holders receive 2% back in bitcoin for every purchase.

Finally, venture capital crypto investments in Latin America have surged to $653 million as of 2021 – almost 10 times more than was invested in 2020, CoinDesk wrote Wednesday.

Investments occurred primarily in consumer-facing asset exchanges and retail trading platforms.

That includes Bitso, a Mexican crypto exchange operating in Argentina and Colombia, which raked in $250 million in May 2021, becoming the first crypto unicorn in Latin America.