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[UPDATED] Russian Central Bank Pitches Ethereum Platform To Support EAEU Payments Network




An official with Russia’s central bank has said that a proposed pan-EAEU payments network could be launched on an Ethereum-based platform.

UPDATED | April 10, 2018:

According to an April 10 press release from the Russian Central Bank, regulators from all the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union have met under the auspices of the Joint Payment Area Working Group. The parties present at that gathering "stated their willingness to continue cooperation in the exploration and prospective use of the distributed ledgers technology as part of the cross-national financial messaging and settlement system including the Masterchain platform," which is described below.

ORIGINAL | April 3, 2018:

Olga Skorobogatova, the Central Bank of Russia's first deputy governor, has projected that a proposed payments network, which would serve the entirety of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), could eventually be deployed atop an Ethereum-based platform called Masterchain.

According to an article from the state-owned media outlet Tass, on April 3, 2018, Skorobogatova stated:

"We are currently discussing the possibility of creating new technologies for transmitting messages and payments across the EAEU as a supranational infrastructure. It would enable us to use blockchain's distributed ledger technologies within the EAEU's space, settle payments and transmit financial information sidestepping current payment systems."

Though previous statements on the establishment of a "single payment space," including one from Vladimir Putin, seemed to leave the door open for the issuance of a P2P cryptocurrency, the latest report focused on bank-to-bank transactions. According to Skorobogatova, the platform will be rolled out first in Russia, then across the union's other member states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

The Masterchain platform was developed by the central bank, the Russian FinTech Association (which is closely linked to the central bank and lists Skorobogatova as its supervisory board chair), and other Russian banks. Its prototype was first launched in 2016.

In comments delivered toward the end of 2017, Skorobogatova suggested that, in addition to building a payments network across the EAEU, Russia might consider participating in the development of a digital currency that would serve the union as a whole.

Those same remarks appeared to indicate that such a currency could also be issued on behalf of the BRICS countries – as Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are collectively known. It's unclear whether Skorobogatova envisioned a single currency for all BRICS and EAEU countries, or two separate currencies, both of which would be valid in Russia. At the time of the statement, she offered no insight into how notorious geopolitical rivals China and India might be enticed into accepting a common currency.

In February 2018, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called for an EAEU-wide policy on cryptocurrency regulation.

About a week earlier, a Russian legislator had submitted a bill proposing a national digital currency called the cryptoruble.

On March 22, Jesse Lund, IBM's head of blockchain solutions for financial services, said that the central bank of at least one country, which has been coordinating with his firm, would be launching a national digital currency in the near future.

Adam Reese

Adam Reese is a Los Angeles-based writer interested in technology, domestic and international politics, social issues, infrastructure and the arts. Adam holds value in Ether, Bitcoin, and Monero.

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