Blockchain and the Bear: Why Russia has fallen for fintech

For a country that produces so many digital currency pioneers, you could argue that Russia appears to be somewhat late to the blockchain technology game.

While no end of Russian blockchain entrepreneurs have made a name for themselves elsewhere in the world, the state appears to have been dragging its heels. Indeed, consider that Russia is seemingly surrounded by (albeit fledgling) blockchain success stories in places like Estonia, as well as Georgia and Kazakhstan. But 2017 appears to be the year when all this changed – Russia’s executive branch has pushed forward a wide array of policies that could see many of its public operations put onto blockchain platforms.

The results could be transformative – doing away with decades of outdated, corruption-prone Soviet-age bureaucracy in favor of networks of high-tech, tamper-proof digital ledgers.

Although the Kremlin’s line on digital currencies seems inconsistent at best (and perhaps deliberately obfuscated at worst), Vladimir Putin and his cabinet seem to be in complete accord when it comes to blockchain adoption.

Both Putin and former president Dmitry Medvedev (now prime minister) have been singing blockchain’s praises for some time. However, in the past few months, the ball has really started to roll.

Property, pensions and more

The government’s first big move was to announce a blockchain-powered property registry pilot scheme in Moscow, which will begin in January 2018 and run for six months.

However, it appears that this is just the start. Medvedev is reportedly now working in close conjunction with Russia’s Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications, in doing so receiving a wide range of proposals. These include potential blockchain platforms for state pensions, mortgage, subsidized medicine and even the country’s timber industry.

Interfax reports that if Medvedev approves, the government will move fast to pass laws that will allow the ministry to press ahead with its schemes.

There is also talk of creating some sort of wide-scoped, central, state-run cloud platform, replete with a government-approved cloud electronic signature system – also possibly leveraging blockchain technology…

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