Russia's National Payment Card Provider: Blockchain Isn't for Us

Russia’s state-backed card payment provider believes it’s not possible or necessary to apply blockchains and distributed ledgers in its business.

Revealed in a new interview with RIA, the country’s international news agency, Vladimir Komlev, the head of the National System of Payment Cards (NSPK), remarked that blockchain technology is like any technology in that it has a niche in which it is needed – but that this may be limited.

He argued that the current payment card system, set up after 2013 sanctions imposed by major US-based card issuers and wholly owned by the Central Bank of Russia, is not exposed to problems that need to be solved by blockchain, and that as such, he does not see any industrial application of the technology.

Having said that, group efforts from Russian banks, payment firms and financial startups, under governance of the Central Bank of Russia, are showing signs of moving forward.

The country’s Association of Fintech, for example, recently advanced its ‘Masterchain‘ blockchain software, first revealed in October 2016. According to the Central Bank of Russia, the system is a technical prototype that uses a distributed ledger to pass financial information among parties with data actuality.

The NSPK’s statements are notable as they showcase the changing narrative around blockchain domestically. As far back as 2013, Russian government officials have had a sometimes conflicted relationship with blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

Still, the same report asserted that legal clarity might be on the way, as it said a government working group led by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov is likely to propose legislative changes designed to accommodate blockchain technology by the end of 2017.

Russian payment card image via Shutterstock

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