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The Russia’s leading business newspaper Kommersant gathered top business players and state officials to discuss the distributed ledger technology at the Four Seasons Hotel Moscow.

The business brunch began at 11 am on 21 February with a speech from Deputy Director of the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia Andrey Tsarikovsky. He highlighted the role of the technology in solving the problem of trust between the regulator and market players.

“Some time ago, they used the word ‘blockchain’ only in connection with bitcoin. I remember the times when they talked about the Internet mainly as a mail service. It is going to be the same with blockchain,” Tsarikovsky declared.

 

Banking experiments

The biggest Russian bank Sberbank was next to take the stage. The company is known as one of the country’s most ardent proponents of the DLT. This time, Sberbank’s head of Technological Innovations Centre Dmitry Bulychkov presented a pilot of a blockchain-based document circulation platform. Another project the bank is working on in cooperation with M.video electronic retail company is a distributed factoring system.

Nikita Smirnov, Deputy Chair of the state investment corporation Vneshekonombank (VEB), revealed the company’s interest in the DLT’s potential for document circulation and credit history checking. According to him, VEB is going to take part in the development of a blockchain ecosystem.

The Russia’s largest private commercial bank Alfa Bank, represented by its Director of E-business Technologies Centre Nadezhda Avdanina, showcased its recent service payment experiment committed in collaboration with S7 Airlines using blockchain-based smart contracts. According to her, blockchain solutions are “cheap” and affordable. “You’ll spend more time on nice-looking apps,” Avdanina noted.

A new possible use case for blockchain was highlighted by Director of Innovations at Otkritie bank Alexei Blagirev who spoke about the company’s plan to develop a fraud-prevention system focused on the particular type of identity theft called “ghosting”.

 

Legal note

Among the business leaders, the consensus is that one should not expect the state to make any legal adjustments in the near future regarding blockchain. Rather, the regulator would assess each particular use case of the technology separately.

Meanwhile, the state officials present at the meeting mostly spoke in favour of the DLT, praising its advantages.

“Everything that can be made with blockchain can be achieved by means of other technologies. What blockchain offers is getting the same results more securely and with fewer risks,” remarked Artem Duvanov, Director of Innovations at National Settlement Depository.

“Join blockchain, or you will lose!” summed up Andrey Tsarikovsky.

 

A word for bitcoin

Whereas the talk at the Kommersant brunch mostly focused on the industrial use of the DLT without any reference to cryptocurrencies, one of the speakers, Exante’s co-founder Anatoliy Knyazev, took the chance to remind the audience where the technology came from.

“Bitcoin is the only blockchain suitable for use, while what we are discussing here is some private blockchains – local networks, in fact,” Knyazev declared.

In response, Artem Duvanov noticed that most of the guests would hardly be ready to discuss the advance of bitcoin. “Blockchain for us is merely a technology, one of the methods of database synchronisation,” concluded the official.

Roman Korizky