Blockchain for Banking News

Sberbank receives digital assets (not crypto) license from Central Bank of Russia


Yesterday Russia’s largest bank Sberbank received a license from the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) to launch its digital assets platform. This will allow the bank and its clients to issue and exchange Digital Financial Assets, not cryptocurrency.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the majority state-owned bank has been targeted by strict economic sanctions imposed by the West. And its Austrian subsidiary had to shutter.

In 2020 Russia passed legislation for regulated Digital Financial Assets, a term used for tokens backed by conventional assets such as stocks, commodities, bonds, commercial paper, and more, as opposed to cryptocurrencies.

Yesterday’s announcement said Sber’s platform now supports certified ‘monetary claims’, which might include Letters of Credit, a topic that came up in an in-depth discussion about its digital assets platform last year. 

While Sber might operate the platform, it is not the only one developing applications.

 “The platform will be open for developers where they can deploy smart contracts, new products and do magic similar to what you have now with decentralized finance (DeFi),” said Oleg Abdrashitov, the head of Sberbank’s Blockchain Lab, talking to Ledger Insights last year. However, it is not associated with cryptocurrencies and uses the enterprise blockchain Hyperledger Fabric.

Sberbank’s blockchain-based platform is designed to enable settlement using Sbercoin, which is tokenized bank money. However, no mention was made of using Sbercoin in the announcement.

“In a month, legal entities will be able to make the first transactions on our blockchain platform,” said Director of Sberbank’s Transactional Business Division, Sergey Popov. “While we are at the beginning of the way of working with digital assets, realizing that for further development it is necessary to adapt the existing regulatory framework. In this direction, we are ready to cooperate closely with the regulator and executive authorities.” (Translated using Google.)

Last month blockchain platform Atomyze was the first company in Russia to receive a license from the central bank for issuing and exchanging digital financial assets. 

For years Russian authorities have resisted cryptocurrencies, with the CBR previously wanting to outlaw them entirely. Last month the country’s Ministry of Finance expressed its preference for regulating the industry rather than banning it, submitting draft legislation to the government according to Russian news agency TASS

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