Qiwi closes purchase of InspiRussia, as blockchain tech gains ground in Russia

Maria Nikolova

Shortly after establishing a special subsidiary for blockchain tech, Qiwi buys a business for development of blockchain-based solutions.

Russian payments services provider Qiwi PLC (NASDAQ:QIWI) has been pushing into new fintech areas like blockchain for the past couple of years. After making the headlines in September 2015 by announcing its plans to launch its own crypto currency “BitRuble”, the company has kept up with its efforts into the development of blockchain technology. In March this year, Qiwi announced the establishment of a blockchain subsidiary and, today, it made another step in the blockchain technology direction.

According to a report by TASS, Qiwi has closed the purchase of InspiRussia, a Tatarstan-based business that aims to develop blockchain-based solutions. The financial details of the deal are not unveiled.

The deal is sealed as Russia increasingly welcomes blockchain technologies. Russia’s Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications is pushing for the adoption of legal provisions for distributed ledger technologies (such as blockchain) and has scheduled this legalization for 2019.

In March 2017, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has become one of the supporters of blockchain technology, as he instructed the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications and the Ministry of Economic Development to study the possible applications of the blockchain technology during the preparation of the “Digital Economy” program.

The warm climate regarding blockchain technologies contrasts with the controversial stance of regulators and government agencies with regards to bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. About one year ago, Russia’s Ministry of Finance was advocating an “anti-bitcoin law”, which envisaged harsh penalties for bitcoin-related activities. This stance, however, has been reversed, as in April this year Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev said Russia may recognize bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in 2018 while the authorities seek to enforce rules against illegal transfers.

Shortly after that statement was made, Maxim Grigoriev, Chief of the Centre for Financial Technologies at the Bank of Russia, rushed to quash the rising enthusiasm. He noted it was too early to talk of legalizing crypto-currencies in Russia and added that the status of crypto-currencies in Russia 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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