Russia’s Largest State-Owned Bank Introduces Country’s First Crypto and Blockchain ETF

Sberbank, the largest and state-owned Russian bank, has introduced the country’s first exchange-traded fund (ETF) to offer exposure to companies involved in the blockchain industry.

The fund launched by the bank is called Sberbank Blockchain Economy ETF that trades on the Russian stock market under the ticker “SBBE,” Sber Asset Management said in a statement.

The new ETF aims to track the Sber Blockchain Economy Index and provide its investors’ exposure to crypto trading firms, including publicly listed crypto exchange Coinbase (COIN), crypto asset management firm Galaxy Digital, and Digindex, a blockchain software provider.

Besides these firms, the index also covers crypto and mining companies and firms providing consulting services in the industry.

“There are hardly any people left who have never heard of blockchain,” said Evgeny Zaitsev, General Director of Sberbank Asset Management, noting that direct investments in crypto-assets are associated with high risks; as such, they propose to invest in companies that are involved in the development of blockchain technologies than in crypto assets.

The ETF will give its investors exposure to the “blockchain economy without the difficulties associated with the direct development, purchase, storage, and sale of digital assets,” the company said in a press release.

Meanwhile, Russia’s central bank has been vocal about its stance against crypto, with Governor Elvira Nabiullina saying recently that they don’t want people to invest in crypto. Another official called this a “financial pyramid,” saying in no unclear terms that they have a “negative attitude” towards crypto assets.

The central bank also said that it is looking to ban crypto investments in the country, citing their usage in money laundering and terrorism financing. However, more than $5 billion transactions have been conducted in the country annually, said the Central Bank of Russia in its November report.

Like other countries, Russia is also working on a ruble-backed central bank digital currency (CBDC).

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Author: AnTy

Russia’s State-Owned Bank, Sberbank, Files Papers to Launch Blockchain Platform for Stablecoin

Russia’s State-Owned Bank, Sberbank, Files Papers to Launch Blockchain Platform for Stablecoin

  • Russian state-owned bank, Sberbank, submits blockchain applications to the central bank.
  • The registration procedure is set to take up to 45 days; the project to be launched in spring.

According to local reports, Russia’s largest state-owned bank filed an application to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation seeking approval for its blockchain underlying its stablecoin, Sbercoin. Speaking during the ‘Digital Transformation and Prospects for Regulating the Digital Economy’ seminar, Anatoly Popov, deputy chairman of the board of Sberbank, confirmed the bank “applied with the Bank of Russia to register its blockchain platform in early January.”

Sberbank’s blockchain will host the reported Sbercoin, which was previously reported to launch in 2021. Popov further said, “the bank is ready to work with such a fiat currency,” having tested the project internally and seeing that the solution works.

According to law, the registration process is set to take about 45 days, with the Central Bank either approving the application or sending comments to the Sberbank team. If approved, the Sberbank blockchain will launch in spring, Popov confirmed. However, the bank is still working around how to tax the digital assets on the blockchain.

“There is a high probability that this project will be launched in the spring,” a spokesperson at the bank said. “There is one more issue that has not yet been fully resolved – the issue of taxation of digital financial assets, but we hope that it will become clearer.”

In December, the state-owned bank announced its plans to launch Sbercoin, only a month before Russia implements its draconian crypto laws.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Russia’s State Owned Bank, Sberbank, Mulls Over Issuing A Ruble Pegged Stablecoin

Russia’s largest state-owned bank Sberbank is mulling over the idea of issuing their stablecoin reported a local daily. Many believe the decision was prompted by the recent signing of a new cryptocurrency law by President Putin. The director of transaction business Sergey Popov confirmed the same and said that if everything goes as planned, the latest stablecoin could be pegged one to one against Russian Rubel. Popov said:

“Probably, we can issue based on the law that has been adopted, a token that we can peg to the ruble, such a corresponding stablecoin, which can become the basis, an instrument for settlements for some other digital financial assets.”

The reports suggest that the new stablecoin could be used to buy digital assets, and will be issued, under this new law, by the end of July. As per the new law,

“digital rights are understood as digital rights, including monetary claims, the possibility of exercising rights under equity securities, the right to participate in the capital of a non-public JSC, and the right to demand the transfer of equity securities.”

It is also important to note that the new law prohibits the use of digital assets as a means of payment, and the new law is expected to come to force by January 1st, 2021. However, crypto-to-crypto transactions buying and selling, as well as loans in crypto, are entirely legal.

Sberbank Has Been Waiting Since 2018 For a Cryptocurrency Law

The DFA law was implemented in 2018 when the government was pondering over categorizing crypto assets with the findings as treasure and regulate it the way they have regulated treasure hunts. However, the government went back and forth many times before arriving at the final version signed by President Putin.

Sberbank has been in waiting since 2018, given the bank has been involved in crypto-related initiatives in the country. In May this year, the Sberbank invested around $100 million for 5000 blockchain-enabled ATMs, which can also mine cryptocurrencies. Back in November 2019, the largest bank in Russia developed a blockchain solution for repurchase agreements.

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Author: James W

Russian Bank, Sberbank, Announces $100M Contract To Buy 5000 Blockchain-Enabled ATMs

Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank announced a $100 million deal to set up nearly five thousand blockchain-enabled ATMs across the country.

The initiative is aiming at reducing the contact with bank cards and cash through integration with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Huawei Pay and Mir Pay. However, the partnership will not include any crypto payments on the platform.

A local Russian news release, Izvestia, confirmed Sberbank’s launch of over 5000 automated teller machines (ATMs) across the country. The measures employed by the blockchain-friendly bank are expected to combat the spread of the current CoronaVirus pandemic.

The machines are expected to hold at least $14,500 USD with enhanced blockchain capabilities, vandalism resistant manufacturing and employ video cards for facial recognition. As per the report, the bank forked out a total of $108 million on the project to reduce the contact on the screen on the ATMs by allowing users to directly connect through their smartphones.

The bank is on the forefront in adoption of blockchain technology in the Russian financial industry but has strongly opposed any implementation of cryptocurrencies into their own systems.

In November 2019, Sberbank became the first bank to be awarded a distributed ledger technology (DLT) patent for an operational engine using DLT and a Repurchase Agreement (repo) dealing with a smart contract solution.

Russia’s Involvement in Blockchain and Crypto

The government-affiliated bank is heavily invested in blockchain. Having collaborated with the government and the Russian Economic Ministry in setting plans to open regulatory sandboxes for blockchain developments in the country.

The proposed project, if implemented, is expected to open up experimental testing in the driverless automobile industry, use of data without prior consent as well as diagnostics.

However, the government aims to toughen its laws surrounding any activity in the cryptocurrency industry including trading, investing, buying and selling of digital assets within the country. Earlier this week, Russian lawmakers proposed a draconian bill that fines any ownership and usage of crypto at up to 1 million for individuals or 2 million for businesses or seven years jail time.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Sberbank Bank Buys $15M In Debt In Pilot From Trafigura Trading Giant Using Hyperledger’s Fabric

Sberbank, known as the largest banking institution in Russia, recently used blockchain technology to buy around $15 million USD worth of debt in accounts receivable from Trafigura, a commodity trader based in Singapore.

This transaction was made using the technology of Hyperledger Fabric platform. The announcement was made this week by the bank and a spokesperson confirmed that this tech provides several advantages for companies that want to trade internationally.

With the private collections feature of the technology, the company was able to keep a part of the data confidential between some of the participants. The system use smart contracts written with a Scala programming language and the Aurelia framework. SberCloud, the cloud solution of the bank, was also used at the time.

According to Alexander Vedyakhin, the deputy chairman of the Russian bank, the blockchain technology was very helpful in making the document flow considerably more efficient than it was before. Something that could take up to a day to do before is now done in an hour.

He also confirmed that the pilot project was very useful because all the steps were fully recorded, so the process could be followed and reviewed all along the way.

This is yet another example of how blockchain has been useful for the financial market. The spokesperson of the bank confirmed that this technology represents an ongoing evolution in the market and that more advanced solutions are set to be used soon.

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Author: Gabriel Machado