On December 26, Sberbank announced that it had issued its first tokenized gold on the Sber blockchain. The state-owned Russian bank received a license for Digital Financial Assets (DFAs) in March 2022 and launched its first digital asset in July based on factored invoices.
While this is Sber’s first metals token, Norlisk’s Atomyze issued tokenized palladium back in July 2022.
To date, the Central Bank of Russia has licensed just three firms to issue DFAs, which cover tokenized stocks, commodities, commercial paper, and financial instruments, but not cryptocurrencies. Apart from Sber and Atomyze, startup Lighthouse has issued tokens based on factored invoices.
“The deal demonstrates the interest of the market and the real world economy in a new instrument that can become a good alternative to investments in the framework of de-dollarization of the economy,” said Alexander Vedyakhin, First Deputy Chairman of Sberbank.”
There has also been some discussion about cryptocurrencies or DFAs being used to settle cross border trades. There were discussions about using a stablecoin pegged to gold. As a result of the rumors, the European Union instituted a blanket ban on crypto-asset transactions with Russia as part of its sanctions package over the Ukraine war.
The investor for Sber’s gold digital assets was metals trader Solfer.
“We decided to test a new way to diversify the company’s balance sheet,” said Maxim Nazhmetdinov, General Manager of Solfer. “The deal was completed in a short time. We think that the new format of investment in precious metals can find its niche in the market.”
Meanwhile, in a recent digital assets consultation, the central bank said it is exploring allowing precious metal DFAs with hybrid digital rights that deliver the metal or the equivalent value.
Sber’s blockchain solution was originally based on Hyperledger Fabric. However, it plans to open up the range of participants to include consumers. Hence at the end of November, it announced its blockchain is now compatible with Ethereum. It said this would enable “developers to freely transfer smart contracts and entire projects between the bank’s blockchain network and open blockchain networks.” It has also integrated the popular Metamask wallet intending to run DeFi applications on the Sber network.