Chorus of support for DLT grows, as Russian PM urges legalization of blockchain

Maria Nikolova

The statement by Dmitry Medvedev is in tune with plans unveiled by Russia’s Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications.

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has underlined his role of a blockchain adoption advocate by urging the legalization of blockchain.

Speaking at the VII St. Petersburg International Legal Forum, Mr Medvedev said that the main moments of regulating blockchain and related distributed ledger technologies (DLT) should be clear by the time blockchain enters in various areas of life. He admitted, however, that blockchain is in its essence an autonomous system.

Russia’s Prime Minister has earlier this year instructed the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications and the Ministry of Economic Development to explore the possible applications of blockchain technology in a number of economic areas. The statement made this week highlights the serious intentions of Russian authorities to somehow fit blockchain technologies into Russia’s legal framework.

Mr Medvedev is not the single authoritative figure to support the legal recognition of blockchain and finding the right approach for regulating DLT. Earlier this month, Russia’s Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications set 2019 as the deadline for the adoption of the laws and legal amendments necessary for the legalization of blockchain.

Even Russia’s central bank is looking to explore the potential of DLT when it comes to financial services and a special working group has been set up by the “Megaregulator” to study this matter.

Russia’s businesses have been keen to adopt blockchain technologies. Earlier in 2017, Russian media reported that payments services provider Qiwi PLC (NASDAQ:QIWI) had established a subsidiary called Qiwi Blockchain Technologies (QBT). Qiwi is now pushing further into this fintech area via the acquisition of InspiRussia, a Tatarstan-based business that develops blockchain-based solutions.

The situation around the legal status of bitcoin and other crypto currencies in Russia remains uncertain. In April this year, Maxim Grigoriev, Chief of the Centre for Financial Technologies at the Bank of Russia, said it was too early to talk of legalizing crypto-currencies in Russia and added that their status is still a subject of discussion for the Bank of Russia, the Ministry of Finance and the Federal Financial Monitoring Service (Rosfinmonitoring).

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