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Russian Central Bank Strengthens Blockchain Efforts

Russia’s central bank has taken further steps toward exploring potential applications of the blockchain, following the creation of a new association of FinTech companies.

The group, which has been set up in part to explore blockchain technology, includes a number of Russian commercial banks, as well as notable industry startups and payment processors like Qiwi, and NSPK (National System of Payment Cards).

The Bank of Russia’s decision to formalize its research into the blockchain sees it strategically align with a number of other global central banks, including some who have already identified practical uses for blockchain technology, with the potential to improve security, increase efficiency and reduce costs in future.

The project will be overseen by Sergey Solonin, the CEO of Qiwi, a vocal supporter of blockchain technology and a well-respected player in the industry, lending additional credibility to the research effort.

Along with investigating applications for the blockchain, the project will also work on new technologies for identification and payments infrastructure, with a view to identifying systemic improvements within the Russian financial ecosystem.

According to Olga Skorobogatova, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, the move is part of a wider drive to digitalize the Russian economy.

“The association’s key objectives will include the development and introduction of new technological solutions to ensure the development of the Russian financial market,” Skorobogatova said. “It will also promote digitalization of the Russian economy.”

The announcement follows on from further positive indications from the Russian central bank, suggesting that the bank is ready to fully embrace the potential of the blockchain.

At the same time, the Russian government is already exploring blockchain technology, with a view to identifying opportunities across government where efficiencies could arise.

In the process, Russia joins the ever-growing list of governments and central banks devoting resources to blockchain projects, which analysts predict will radically overhaul data handling and transactions across a number of different industries and spheres.

As 2017 gets underway, it already looks like another good year for the development of distributed ledger technology.