Sberbank, the country’s largest bank by assets, will not join R3 due to international sanctions. Four other Russian banks were informally signalled that they are not welcome.
R3 has made it clear to Sberbank that the bank’s application to join the blockchain consortium “would not pass due to the sanctions,” an informed source told Kommersant.
“Sberbank turned to R3 to join a business community, but it did not work,” the source said.
According to Lev Khasis, First Deputy Chairman at Sberbank, the company has not submitted an official application to enter R3. But sources in the Russian banking community say otherwise, telling that the bank sent a request to join the consortium.
Khasis insists that the main reason not to proceed with the application was not just the US-imposed sanctions:
“This is not only about the sanctions. The general attitude about Russia in the world is very complex now… There is no point to want [to join R3] if they don’t want us. When they want us, we’ll see if we want them.”
Other Russian financial organisations, namely Ak Bars, Alfa-Bank, Otkritie Bank and National Settlement Depository, were interested in joining R3, but the consortium “did not welcome Russian banks,” according to the newspaper. The sources suggest the situation might change during Donald Trump’s presidency.
Currently, the only Russian company to become a member of R3 is the electronic payments provider QIWI.
It is not the first time Sberbank is facing problems trying to join the blockchain consortium. The company considered applying to R3 as early as December 2015, but it was already clear that the sanctions might get in the way.
The international sanctions against Russia's individuals, banks and corporations are in force since February 2014 due to the country's involvement in military actions in eastern Ukraine. The economic restrictions were one of the main reasons behind the Russia's financial crisis in the same year and caused losses to EU countries of over 100 billion euro.
In September 2016, Sberbank became a member of the technological blockchain alliance HyperLedger. The project is a non-profit international consortium established in December 2015 by the Linux Foundation. The list of members includes Deutsche Boerse, ABN Amro, LSE, BNP Paribas, IBM, Cisco, Moscow Exchange, Wells Fargo, Swift and Intel – more than 120 organisations in total.
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