The Russian government’s attitude towards this innovative technology
Based on Russian business media: RBC, Kommersant, Vedomosti and others.
For the first time, we have known about Russian government’s interest in blockchain during the Saint-Petersburg economic forum. It was Mr. Shuvalov (First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia) who said: “Right now we cannot secure the technological leadership to change people’s life in Russia. To secure this leadership is the main goal for us. The President is totally obsessed with that and understands that significant growth rates depend on digital economy and technological leadership”.
According to Vladislav Martynov, the Head of Bitfury Group : “Today it became clear that Russia could miss once again a chance to take a technological leap forward if it does not use this innovative technology at an early stage of its development. Approximately one month before the forum we noticed that the people’s attitude towards blockchain has totally changed, everybody became obsessed with it. We were receiving calls from top officials and oligarchs. And the turning point was this panel session on blockchain during the SPIEF. Those who were not obsessed with this idea before the session, became fully obsessed with it during the forum”.
Igor Shuvalov became responsible for this technology in the Russian government and leads a working group on blockchain use to enhance the effectiveness of state and corporative management. As Shuvalov’s spokesperson said, the first meeting of the working group was in July and added: “Shuvalov is actively involved in blockchain dissemination and consult with a wide range of different experts and businessmen on this particular issue”.
In the first place, Shuvalov is interested in big data technology. The use of this technology will allow government to be more effective, get more accurate economic forecasts and smartly allocate funds for infrastructure. Above all, Shuvalov wants to introduce digital technologies in the system of government procurement and services. It can be used to conduct procurements in automatic mode without someone’s possible interference, Russian citizens could also receive government services without clerks’ participation in it.
Russia is also becoming one of the world’s mining centers. According to Bitfury, in July 2017 an absolute leader in mining was China with 60% of the market. However, Chinese authorities have recently banned digital currency and the place of a new leader is vacant now. Russia has all the chances to become one of the biggest mining actors in the world.
That was what Mr. Putin was talking about on October 10 in Sochi during the meeting on digital currency. He said: “Digital currencies became or are becoming proper means of payment. At the same time, the use of digital currency presents substantial risks and I know the Central Bank’s opinion on that. We have to create such regulative environment that would allow us to systematize relations in this sphere and it is very important not to create unnecessary barriers”.
Some days before, the Chairwoman of the Russian Central Bank Ms. Nabiullina said that the Bank is against the legalization of digital currencies as a means of payment and would not give digital currencies access to the Russian exchange market. Yet, she added that the Bank consider the possibility of creating national digital currency with the use of blockchain.
Nevertheless, on October 20 Mr. Putin formulated a list of instructions for the government and the Central Bank. It includes the definition of the legal status of digital currencies and blockchain, the regulation of this sphere and the establishment of the single payments area within the Eurasian Economic Union with the use of the new financial technologies. The Russian Prime minister, Mr. Medvedev and Ms. Nabiullina who are responsible for these tasks must carry out the instructions before 1 July 2018.