On Nov. 30, 2020, Russian news website RBC announced that the country’s largest state-owned bank, Sberbank, is not ruling out the possibility of issuing its own digital currency.
The financial giant is considering developing its own native token called “Sbercoin” which will be pegged to the Russian Ruble.
The CEO of Sberbank, Herman Gref, told reporters that his bank is gearing up towards crypto and could launch a digital currency to promote accessibility to this asset class. The crypto venture will be a collaborative effort with JP Morgan and may launch the digital token as an “experiment” in 2021.
The news comes as the Digital Financial Assets (DFA) law is set to come into effect next year. President Vladimir Putin signed the digital assets regulation bill into law on July 31, legalizing the buying and selling of crypto. However, the bill prohibits making payments with digital assets such as Bitcoin.
While the DFA bans certain crypto activities, it doesn’t take issue with stablecoins backed by the ruble, which is likely why Sberbank is looking into issuing a native token as soon as the law comes into effect. Sbercoin would function as a settlement tool for transactions with other digital financial assets.
Delving Into Blockchain Tech
While expressing interest in launching a native token, Gref revealed that his bank also plans to roll out a blockchain platform that allows users to buy digital financial assets.
The CEO stated:
“From January 1, the law comes into force, we want to bring to the market our new blockchain platform, which will provide services for the purchase of digital financial assets.”
Sberbank’s ambition to adopt digital currencies and blockchain tech isn’t new. In Aug 2020, Sergei Popov, the director of the transaction business division at Sberbank, hinted at the bank’s plan to tokenize financial assets using stablecoin following the DFA law’s enactment.
The bank had also proposed the settlement of payments under smart contracts, which would solve the issue of fund misappropriation.
Sberbank’s Appetite for Crypto and Digital Tech
Russia’s largest bank has always had an appetite for all things digital. It is no surprise that the state-owned bank is now looking into rolling out crypto services to their estimated 90 million clients.
In May, Sberbank made headlines after they announced the purchase of 5,000 blockchain-based ATMs worth about $100M, that came with crypto-mining capabilities.
The financial giant also recently rolled out its cloud service to enable businesses to sign payment documents via digital signatures within its mobile banking app.