Russia’s Biggest Lender Opens Blockchain Lab

Sberbank, a state-owned Russian bank, has opened up about an initiative for starting a blockchain laboratory. The lab aims to provide a platform to pilot test blockchain endorsed business solutions for the Russian financial group.

Blockchain technology to transform banking industry

The biggest lender in Russia is already developing 20 blockchain based pilot projects, including a joint venture with Severstal – a publicly listed steel company.

Sberbank is also working on a blockchain project with the Federal Anti-monopoly Services. In December 2017, Sberbank’s Chairman of Board, said: “Although, they are all in the experimental mode. We are experimenting a lot.”

Igor Bulantsev, Senior Vice President of the bank, believes that digital ledger technology is the element that will reshape the financial ecosystem. He said that,

“It is important to note that blockchain helps market participants cooperate more efficiently. Hence, Sberbank is making a contribution to the future of the banking industry and our country by launching the blockchain laboratory.”

The new lab will generate advanced technologies to work in synchrony with Sberbank Groups’ other testing platforms. The lab will also provide a live testing ground for startups that work on the nascent technology. According to a press release, Sberbank will appoint blockchain technology experts to develop blockchain based products further.

In a statement, Sberbank said: “Sberbank has opened a blockchain laboratory which will test cutting-edge blockchain technologies, generate ideas to develop blockchain-based solutions, create product prototypes, carry out pilot projects, and implement applied business solutions for Sberbank Group,”

Russia a key player in the Digital Ledger Space

In December last year, Herman Gref, indicated the roll out of blockchain based solutions by Sberbank. Moreover, Gref pointed out that 2018 will see the introduction of a handful of blockchain enabled products. However, a wide-scale implementation may take up to 10 years. Sberbank also became the member of non-commercial blockchain consortium – Enterprise Ethereum Alliance in October 2018.

The nascent innovation has been effectuated by many financial institutions around the world. The blockchain focused consortium in Japan, for instance, has over 100 financial institutions that plan to implement the technology in the banking sector.

Additionally, cross-border payments become immediately cheaper and quicker when using a digital ledger. Bulantsev pointed iterated that, “Blockchain can considerably reshape many business areas related to the financial market, as well as classic activities of the bank and our clients.”

On the other hand, Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest private commercial bank, is establishing a digital cash service where the blockchain will clear all transactions.

The private bank will work in coalition with the HashCash, an invention by Adam Back in 1997, in order to create a local ecosystem with which to transfer value from person to person instantly . In the past, Alfa Bank has also worked with the state-owned Russian bank to make the first blockchain payment in the country.

Will a wider adoption of blockchain technology occur sooner than expected?

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