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FX Week: «Rouble gets its own symbol»

MOSCOW — The Russian congress is to establish a symbol for the rouble sign in a bid to boost the reputation of the unit.

Last week the Russian State Duma approved a bill on the creation of a rouble symbol for the first time with an overwhelming majority of 390 «yes» votes to 8 «no» votes. It needs to go through further parliamentary approval before it is signed into law by president Vladimir Putin. However, Igor Souzdaltsev, project manager at Investsberbank in Moscow and president of ACI Russia said the reasons for using this symbol were practical.

«Most obviously, it means Russian and foreign banks don’t have to spend any money to introduce this rouble sign,» he told FX Week. «This is because the Russian capital letter F is presented in every Cyrillic alphabet in every operational system on every computer in the world.»

The plan to give the rouble its own symbol dates back to 1999, but Souzdaltsev said there are reasons why Russia has decided to act now. The law On currency regulation and currency control adopted in 2004, said that by 2007, all limitations on the capital flows should be deleted and the rouble should become a fully convertible currency globally, he said. «Therefore, it looks like the Kremlin has finally realised that every hard currency should have a symbol and is trying to catch the last train.»

Russian markets have been notoriously difficult for foreign banks to access, but the changes in legislation also provide a more simplified procedure for Russian banks to embark on FX and money market operations with non-resident banks in Russia as well as abroad (FX Week, October 17, 2005). Souzdaltsev added that average rouble trading volumes — all rouble-related trades in Russian financial markets — currently stand at $45 billion daily.

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