Last week Moscow hosted a meetup dedicated to blockchain technology and its implementation in the public sector. The event took place at the Presidential Administration office and was hosted by German Klimenko, Vladimir Putin’s internet advisor.
According to Anatoli Knyazev , CEO of EXANTE, an investment services company, attendees of the meetup included representatives for the Central Bank of Russia, the Federal Tax Service, the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media, the State Register, Moscow’s Department of Information Technology, and active members of local blockchain and bitcoin communities, entrepreneurs and journalists.
“It was nice to see that everyone present was well aware about blockchain and bitcoin. It was also very important to see an insight on how blockchain implementation could impact every public department. However, most significantly, all attendees had their own views, and everyone knew quite well what they were talking about. It was interesting to see that many of those present at the meetup were closely following the blockchain and bitcoin initiatives implemented in Ukraine. One of the Central Bank’s employees, as it turned out, was well aware of what PrivatBank’s e-commerce department was engaged in,” Knyazev tol ForkLog.
Yet Knyazev believes it is too early to speak about any visible shift towards cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies. He cites German Klimenko, Putin’s “internet guy”, who said his attitude towards these new technologies was somewhere between “pessimistic and neutral”.
“There was a discussion about separating blockchain development from cryptocurrencies. Some people think they can use private blockchains, while others, like Robokassa co-founder Oleg Pokrovski, believe that blockchain has to be public and should be only used with cryptocurrencies.”
Speaking at the event, Anatoli Knyazev formulated the blockchain community’s main proposal to the Central Bank of Russia.
“We know that back in 2014, all Russian banks received an informal warning about certain risks related to violation of Russian laws by dealing with cryptocurrencies and people and companies related to them. In fact, this warning is legally void; however, banks still take it very seriously. I did my best to explain that working with blockchain in certain ways would not result in any issues with the authorities. I think public blockchains will start appearing in Russia only after that. For instance, Moscow’s IT Department is going to implement such a blockchain soon.”
A Tax Service’s representative raised a question about transferring the land plot / car ownership database onto blockchain. According to him, the Tax Service understands the technological side of the issue, however, there would be legal problems since any department rules suppose there’s a person responsible for the data’s authenticity.
“Let’s assume that all databases have become decentralized today. Once no one can alter the database It will be absolutely unclear what ministry will be possessing the ultimate truth. For example, a person request information about a car owner. If he doesn’t agree with the response, it can be challenged in court. The ministry checks everything is happening according to the law, which states who exactly confirm the information requested. However, if everything is stored in a decentralized base, the ministry will fail to comply with the law. That’s the main reason why the system will not be implemented just now.”
Still, contrary to the popular belief, Knyazev thinks the government officials are actually good at understanding blockchain technology.
“I would say, many government entities aren’t blockchain-allergic, but they don’t believe the technology is perfect either. They have indeed worked it out and came to a conclusion that blockchain was worth studying and possibly implementing with care,” he added.
Already having some experience in working with bitcoin exchanges and companies, EXANTE generally welcomes the Russian government’s initiatives on blockchain implementation. As Anatoli Knyazev says, the company is willing to share this experience with projects aimed at developing crypto-technologies in Russia.