Qiwi establishes blockchain subsidiary

Maria Nikolova

The company, which back in the days planned the launch of “BitRuble”, continues its push into blockchain tech.

Payments services provider Qiwi PLC (NASDAQ:QIWI) has set up a subsidiary called Qiwi Blockchain Technologies (QBT). As its name suggests, the business will develop products based on the blockchain technology.

Alexey Arkhipov, who heads Qiwi’s efforts to develop crypto technologies, has confirmed the news to Russian newspaper “Kommersant”. Mr Arkhipov will be at the helm of QBT.

QBT will be responsible for the development and implementation of blockchain-based products into Qiwi’s payments ecosystem, as well as for expertise and consulting services provided to external clients. The subsidiary has already developed Qiwi cryptoprocessing, which has passed tests and is ready for integration.

Qiwi is known for its efforts in the crypto currencies area. In September 2015, Russian media reported of plans by the payment services provider to launch its own crypto currency, set to have the name BitRuble. The new currency was said to be based on the blockchain technology.

Any plans to launch the “Russian Bitcoin”, however, will have to be co-ordinated with the Bank of Russia and its official stance regarding crypto-currencies is very negative. According to a statement by the central bank dated January 27, 2014, provision of Bitcoin exchange services is a suspicious activity and is treated as violation of state AML laws.

In February 2016, the Bank of Russia displayed the first signs of warming up to new technologies associated with virtual currencies by announcing the setting up of a group that would analyse the innovations and promising technologies in the financial market. Amid the priority questions for the group are the new developments in the mobile and payment areas, along with the study of distributed ledger technologies (like blockchain).

Even Russia’s Finance Ministry appears to be softening its push for introducing harsh penalties for Bitcoin-related activities. In January this year, Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseyev said that the Bank of Russia and the Federal Financial Monitoring Service did not identify any threats from the use of crypto-currencies. At that point, the implementation of the “anti-Bitcoin law” was put on hold.

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