Russian Banks, FIs Partner For Blockchain Consortium

Major Russian financial services firms and institutions have teamed up to launch the country’s first financial blockchain consortium, a new coalition aimed at creating and implementing blockchain solutions in the field of financial services.

The initiative, announced during the XXV International Financial Congress held in St. Petersburg from June 29 to July 01, 2016, is led by payment processing firm QIWI, B&N Bank, Khanty-Mansiysk Otkritie Bank, Tinkoff Bank, MDM Bank, and professional services firm Accenture.

The consortium’s activities will spread over technological, regulatory, practical and communicative purposes. The new partners intend to work with other market participants, from Russia and from other parts of the world, for technological harmonization.

The group indicated it will launch an open communication platform for market participants and regulators to raise the level of public knowledge and awareness, as well as confidence in blockchain-based financial services.

The consortium plans to create and trial the first prototypes later this year. The next step for the group will be to elaborate a proper legal framework for distributed ledgers, as well as the introduction of financial solutions to the market and global integration.

Oliver Hughes, CEO of Tinkoff Bank, pointed out that blockchain technology can help financial services firms like his streamline and speed up most of the financial processes, and make those substantially cheaper.

Commenting on the consortium launch, Sergey Solonin, CEO of QIWI Group, said:

“Over the past two years, the attention to blockchain and its derivatives has intensified. Blockchain can effectively solve the long-standing technological problems in the financial sector and change all kinds of relationships between market players.

“The creation of consortium in Russia is our response to the rapidly growing interest in innovative technologies that can lead the economy, business and daily life of a person to a completely new level of interaction and confidence. I’m convinced that the Consortium, which brought together the Russia’s largest financial company, is able to become an effective platform for multilateral cooperation in exploration, launching innovations and their implementations in financial services.”

As interest in blockchain technology increases, market participants and regulatory authorities in Russia and around the world, need to consolidate their efforts to study and implement solutions collectively.

According to Stanislav Danysh, managing director of B&N BANK, the consortium “will consolidate disparate efforts of Russian companies towards research, prototyping and popularization of this technology, as well as accelerate blockchain’s practical application in everyday processes that will improve and facilitate the interaction between the various participants in the market.”

The news comes shortly after Alexei Arkhipov, director for crypto-technologies at QIWI, announced his company’s plans to implement and test blockchain technology in its operations, notably for transactions processing and recording,

In an interview with Forklog in May, Arkhipov hinted at the idea of a Russia blockchain consortium, suggesting a “Russian technological consortium in the likeness of R3.”

Blockchain consortiums around the world

R3, a New York-based fintech firm that leads one of the world’s most visible coalitions of the banking industry, brings together over 40 financial institutions to develop and trial blockchain solutions for the banking and financial industry.

A pioneer, R3 set the trend when it announced in September 2015 its banking coalition. Its collaborative approach to blockchain development quickly spread, leading to the emergence of a number of blockchain-focused collaborations starting from late-2015.

Another noteworthy initiative is the Hyperledger Project, a collaborative effort aimed at developing a cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers launched in December 2015.

Other regional initiatives include the ChinaLedger Alliance and the Financial Blockchain Shenzhen Consortium, both launched in May this year.

ChinaLedger Alliance is supported by non-profit research outfit Wanxiang Blockchain Labs and includes notorious figures of the cryptocurrency industry as advisors including Vitalik Buterin and Tim Swanson.

The Financial Blockchain Shenzhen Consortium is a coalition of over 30 technology and financial firms in China focused on exploring applications of the technology.

In France, BNP Paribas Securities Services, Caisse des Dépôts, Euroclear, Euronext, S2iEM and Société Générale, in collaboration with Paris EUROPLACE, announced a few weeks ago a new partnership aimed at developing a post-trade blockchain infrastructure for SMEs in Europe to improve access to capital markets.

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