In a further sign that Russia is heading towards accepting cryptocurrencies as part of the financial system, the state-owned bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) has announced the setting up of a blockchain research center headquartered at the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow.
This is considered to be a part of the digital initiative undertaken at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is believed to look at Ethereum and other blockchain related currencies as a way to diversify the economy of Russia beyond oil and gas.
The research center is expected to help the bank to invest in blockchain projects and ultimately develop its own blockchain-based products and services in the future.
VEB chief executive Sergei Gorkov said: “In September, we will open the first centre focused on blockchain, convergent, and quantum technologies at the National University of Science and Technology (MISIS). We plan to create a group of investment funds with external financing from both Russian and foreign investors.”
The prioritization of blockchain technology is a welcome change to the opposition to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies seen from the Russian government and its advisors as far back as 2016. In March of that year, the presidential adviser on the internet, German Klimenko, claimed that cryptocurrencies were a “virus going straight into the head”.
But with the government softening its stance on Bitcoin, it is clear that the Russian government is moving towards adopting and regulating blockchain technology in a big way.