Sberbank, Russia’s largest banking institution, is ready to launch its decentralized finance (DeFi) platform by May. According to a report on February 3 by the Russian news agency Interfax, Russia’s majority state-owned bank plans to roll out the project in multiple steps based on statements by Konstantin Klimenko, product manager at Sberbank’s Blockchain Lab.
Speaking at the 7th Economic Conference in Perm on Friday, Klimenko stated Sberbank’s mission to make Russia the leader in DeFi operations. He then commented on the prospective project, saying that it is in the closed beta testing phase, with open testing starting in March.
“As of March 1st, we are moving to the next phase, and it will no longer be a beta experiment, but an open test,” he said. “At the end of April, the platform will be fully open, and after that it will be possible to carry out some commercial operations on it,” he added.
Klimenko also mentioned that Sberbank’s DeFi platform will start offering compatibility with MetaMask wallet only. In addition, they plan to integrate the project with the Ethereum blockchain, thus enabling the seamless transfer of smart contracts and other projects within the Ethereum ecosystem.
Sberbank and its blockchain projects
Sberbank is the largest bank in Russia and the third largest in Europe, with assets under management in 2021 amounting to $559 billion. However, the launch of the DeFi platform marks only Sberbank’s latest foray into the blockchain space. In March 2022, the Moscow-based lender obtained a license from the Bank of Russia to operate as a digital asset exchange, with the right to issue its own digital token.
Three months prior to this development, Sber Asset Management, the investment arm of Sberbank, announced the launch of Russia’s first blockchain exchange-traded fund (ETF). This fund provides investors with exposure to the portfolio of leading blockchain companies such as Coinbase and Galaxy Digital while protecting them from the extreme effects of cryptocurrency market volatility.
Cryptocurrency in Russia
Russia’s position on cryptocurrencies is quite ambiguous as there is a wide disparity between its various financial regulatory institutions.
For example, the Bank of Russia, the country’s central bank, has repeatedly expressed its skepticism about cryptocurrency.
In January 2022, the country’s main bank issued a report recommending a total ban on cryptocurrency and all activities associated with it, for example, mining, as it described cryptocurrency as a pyramid scheme driven solely by speculation. In fact, the Bank of Russia only grants digital exchange licenses to issue and trade digital assets other than cryptocurrencies.
On the other hand, the Russian Ministry of Finance is aware of a lot of potential in the field of cryptocurrency. They decided to take a friendlier approach, amending the digital currency law to include regulations on cryptocurrency mining, investing, and trading in the Eastern European country.
As time progresses, Russia will have to take a clear stance on cryptocurrency operations, balancing its financial concerns against the potential benefits of this emerging technology. Meanwhile, the cryptocurrency market is still on the rise with a total market cap of $1.03 trillion based on data from TradingView.
Cryptocurrency market cap at $1.03 trillion | Source: Chart on TradingView.com
Featured image: Forbes, chart from TradingView