Russian Roadmap Includes Draft for Blockchain Legalisation in 2017

December 24, 2015 16:52 UTC

The Internet Development Institute (IRI) of Russia has prepared a roadmap titled “Economics and Finance” which includes a proposal for regulating blockchain.

A new roadmap that pitches the proposal to ‘legalize’ blockchain technology by January 2017 was submitted to President Putin this week, December 22, 2015. The roadmap is a supplement under the wider proposal called “Internet Program 2025”, an initiative that puts together proposals for the development of internet and communication as a whole in Russia.

The proposal has one if its strongest advocates in Andrei Romanenko, the co-founder of payment operator Qiwi. Romanenko also helped develop the roadmap, according to prominent Russian news outlet, CNews.

The publication also quotes a source involved in the roadmap saying:

Blockchain – is not the same thing as Bitcoin. It is a revolutionary technology of distributed databases that could be helpful to banks and organizations that work with securities.

It comes as little surprise that Romanenko is vouching for blockchain technology as payment operator Qiwi announced the creation of a new cryptocurrency called Bitrubles in 2016. Company CEO Sergei Solonin also met with regulators and representatives of the central bank to discuss butrubles. At the time, Solonin also said Qiwi is testing sandbox distributed ledger platforms and testing them in accordable with Russian law. “For example, we are working on the creation of a system for the identification of cryptocurrency users,” Solonin confirmed.

A representative of a different internet payment processor, Yandex, had a differing take, questioning the feasibility of the blockchain legalization proposal on a broad industry scale and the effect it may have on bitcoin in Russia.

[Blockchain] is an interesting technology that could benefit the banking system, but it is unlikely that all the players [big banks] would work together. The [proposed] situation could even stimulate the cryptocurrencies [Bitcoin], which will only lead to more questions by the legislators.

One Russian bank is confirmed to be interested in blockchain technology is Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank by assets. Recent reports attribute quotes to the bank’s Deputy Chairman Leve Khasis to be keen on joining R3’s global private consortium that is exploring and experimenting with blockchain tech for new applications in the banking industry.

Russia is among a group of countries that have taken a strong stance against the cryptocurrency, bitcoin. In October 2015, The country’s Ministry of Finance recently put for a proposal that aims to punish Russian citizens engaging in Bitcoin trading with a prison sentence of up to 4 years. The Russian Ministry of Finance had previously supported fines of up to 500,000 rubles or a 2-year community service sentence. The proposal has not been approved nor enforced.

While the Russian Finance Ministry is decidedly against the adoption or usage of bitcoin, officials claim that they have no qualms about the cryptocurrency’s underlying technology of a distributed ledger, the blockchain.

Disclaimer: The quotes are loosely transalated.

Featured image of Saint-Petersburg from Shutterstock.

Last modified: October 21, 2019 05:28 UTC

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