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R3 Blockchain Consortium Sees First Russian Member in Payments Firm QIWI

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:51 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:51 PM

Russian payments service provider QIWI has joined the R3 blockchain consortium, becoming the first Russian company to be included amongst R3’s global banking consortium of over 60 major banks and financial institutions.

Russian flag in silk

Publicly-traded QIWI is arguably the most well-known company in the Russian Fintech space. Last year, the company announced plans to begin issuing a cryptocurrency called “bitrubles”, an endeavor that quickly met opposition from Russian officials.

In June 2016, QIWI was revealed to be putting together Russia’s own private banking consortium, in partnership with the Bank of Russia, the Russian Federation’s central bank. The plan came to pass the following month. A coming together of Russia’s largest banks and tech consultancy giant Accenture formed the working group, along with QIWI.

Following QIWI’s inclusion in R3, CEO Sergey Solonin stated:

QIWI is thoroughly involved in developing and testing blockchain projects and ideas that can be directly applied to its core payment market.

Notably, Solonin also added blockchain experiments and prototypes that are currently being worked on by the Russian firm can be put to use on R3’s platforms, which could eventually see applications among other financial institutions forming the R3 setup.

Case in point, QIWI and the Bank of Russia’s private consortium have already developed and tested a prototype called ‘Masterchain.’ As a blockchain platform, Masterchain was developed as new solution leveraging distributed ledger technology for financial messaging between banks in the Russian financial system.

R3 CEO David Rutter commented on the group’s newest addition, the first from Eastern Europe.

He stated:

Eastern Europe is a key region for us as we expand our network of consortium members and continue to develop truly global applications for this groundbreaking technology.

In a twist of irony, Russia-based QIWI, coming from a country that has taken a notoriously hardline stance against cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, is arguably in short company as a firm that has already collaborated and developed blockchain solutions with national regulators and policymakers.


The successful Masterchain test, despite scarce details, makes for a concrete example of a blockchain platform used by private and state-owned banks at once, while overseen by the country’s central bank. The use-case makes it entirely plausible for other regulated banks around the world to pay attention to blockchain technology, beyond R3’s own member banks.

QIWI will join other members under the common roof of the R3 Lab and Research Centre.

Images from Shutterstock.