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Russian Banks and Brokers Step up Crypto, Blockchain Drives

  • Sberbank Will Trade As-yet-unnamed Cryptocurrencies in Switzerland
  • Chechnya to Pioneer Blockchain Initiative
  • Russian Company Set to Launch Bitcoin Futures Trading

Russia’s Sberbank has announced its plans to trade cryptocurrencies abroad through its Zurich-based Swiss subsidy Sberbank (Switzerland) AG, per its Head of Global Markets, Andrey Shemetov. The bank has taken the move in order to sidestep Russian legislation, which currently forbids cryptocurrency trading.

Shemetov said that Sberbank did not intend to offer its services to individual investors, but rather only to “legally recognized entities,” and claimed the bank would only be trading in “major” cryptocurrencies, though he stopped short of mentioning any currencies by name.

Shemetov also stated, “We cannot currently offer [cryptocurrency] trading in Russia, but would nonetheless like to satisfy the interests of our clients.”

Sberbank has been called the “the eternal leader of the blockchain conversation” by Lenta.ru, and the bank’s crypto-keen president German Gref earlier this year called for governments everywhere to refrain from imposing suffocating regulations on cryptocurrency trading.

Gref also said last year, “I believe blockchain technology will change everything – for literally every industry.”

In 2017, Sberbank became the first Russian bank to join the high-profile Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), one of the international community’s largest open-source blockchain collectives. It also funds a network of Russian blockchain startups as part of its Blockchain Lab initiative. The bank last year experienced meteoric growth rates of some 40%, and was recently named Russia’s biggest public company, ahead of gas giants Gazprom and Rosneft. In 2014, it was named Europe’s third biggest bank.

In other news, Russia’s Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreestr) has been working on a blockchain technology-powered real estate registration platform with Sberbank rival VEB. After successful pilots conducted last year, Rosreestr says it is now ready to deploy the platform in real-world situations – potentially beginning in Chechnya, a federal subject of Russia.

Rosreestr hopes to introduce a nationwide blockchain registration network this year, but says the small size and unique geography of Chechnya makes it ideal for early-stage adoption. With Chechnya’s highly developed oil production and agriculture facilities, as well as its many urban areas and natural mineral deposits, Rosreestr says it will be able to test a number of different transaction types in the Caucasian republic.

Meanwhile, Russian brokerage company Finam has announced it will begin offering its customers bitcoin futures trading. According to the company, it will begin its operations “in the near future.”It says it will be trading “on the Chicago Stock Exchange, the largest financial derivatives market in North America.”

Finam explains that it will only be allowing qualified investors to use its services, and that says traders’ minimum contract volume will be set at 1 BTC.

The company’s Deputy General Director Yaroslav Dyusushe claimed, “Launching this service sends out a message. It shows that we are a company that is now on top of modern trends. We do not just talk about the prospects for cryptocurrencies, or make vague forecasts about when they will collapse – we just get on with creating services that meet our customers’ expectations.”

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