Russian Bank

Russia’s Sber bank first digital assets transaction scheduled for July

Sber—formerly Sberbank—is set to begin issuing and trading digital financial assets (DFAs) on its in-house digital assets platform. The first transaction with digital financial assets will take place within a month, around mid-July. 

Anatoly Popov, deputy chairman of the state-owned bank, disclosed the details while speaking during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). He told Russian news outlet TASS that the platform has already passed the Central Bank of Russia’s (CBR) acceptance test. 

“We are looking closely at the development of new technologies like distributed ledger technology. We are studying how blockchain technologies are developing…Our platform has already passed acceptance tests, and the first transaction will take place within a month,” he said. 

Sber received approval from the CBR to launch the blockchain platform back in March, as reported by Reuters. Last year, the bank first applied to be included in the central bank’s register of information systems operators. 

The state-owned institution has also not shelved plans to launch Russia’s first recognized stablecoin called Sbercoin since first announcing the move in 2020. The stablecoin issuance was to be a joint effort with JP Morgan, but the onset of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine may have disrupted the agreement. 

Russia expanding support for digital assets firms

Amidst international sanctions that have targeted the heart of Russia’s financial system, the country has been opening up to more digital currency innovations. Since February, the CBR has approved at least five firms to adopt blockchain technology, including Atomyze Russia, Lighthouse, Sber, VTB Bank (VTB), and Promsvyazbank (PSB). 

In the same SPIEF event, VTB also announced that it would begin a test for purchases of DFAs with Russia’s CBDC, the digital ruble, in September. VTB and PSB conducted the first successful testing of transactions with digital ruble back in February. 

Russia has also been introducing regulations for the industry at a steady pace. Bills to regulate digital currency trading, as well as block reward mining, have been advancing in the parliament. While a bill to clarify that digital assets are not substitutes for the ruble has also been introduced

Other financial innovations Russia is seriously considering to power with blockchain technology include a replacement for the international financial messaging platform SWIFT, and also a replacement for bank payments and settlement vendors like VISA and MasterCard, which have exited the Russian market. 

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