Russia’s largest Bank SBER will pilot the launch of the digital currency SberCoin by 2021
Sberbank, Russia’s largest Bank, announced its plans to develop its own digital currency back in August, and now the Bank’s CEO, German Gref, has confirmed that they have chosen JP Morgan as their technology partner.
SBERBANK and the blockchain platform
Sberbank, a major banking player in Russia. In fact, it is the largest bank in Russia, as well as in Central and Southern Europe. The launch of Sberbank dates back to November 12, 1841, when Tsar Nicholas I signed a decree on the creation of savings banks. Currently, the government owns a controlling stake in Sberbank group.
Sberbank unites about eleven regional banks and has 14,200 branches in 83 regions. Globally, SBER is represented in more than 18 countries. In total, it employs more than 281,000 people, making it the fifth largest employer in the Russian Federation.
Sber boasts more than 100 million customers, and recently even dropped the Bank’s name to position itself as a Fintech company.
The head of SBER German Gref made several high-profile statements. Thus, he detailed his plans for 2021 when the regulation of crypto assets in Russia would come into force.
The first announcement concerns the release of a new blockchain platform. So far, few details have been leaked, but we know that this platform will support transactions with digital assets.
“From January 1, with the application of the regulatory framework, we want to bring to the market our new blockchain platform, which will provide services for the purchase of digital financial assets”, — said German Gref.
Second, Reuters announced that Sberbank will create its own digital asset called Sbercoin. This is most likely the reason for choosing JP Morgan as a partner: their experience in developing private stablecoins in the form of JPM Coin, the Bank’s own digital currency.
The stablecoin will be known as SberCoin and is expected to begin a pilot launch as a trial next year, but Gref has not confirmed whether the pilot project will go beyond the sandbox phase. Given the growing demand for similar digital stablecoins around the world, the pilot project has a good chance of turning into a full-fledged stablecoin for private banking, very similar to the JPM coin.
The fact that Sber has also confirmed its own blockchain platform built on the Hyperledger Fabric makes it unlikely that it will go beyond the pilot phase.
SberCoin launch and new cryptocurrency laws
If SberCoin manages to pass the pilot phase, it will be one of the first stable coins issued under the new Russian law on cryptocurrencies, known as digital financial assets (DFA), which will take effect from January 2021. The new cryptocurrency law accepts digital currencies but from the legal point of view, it cannot serve as a payment method which means that trading cryptocurrency is illegal, as well as buying and selling.
The Central Bank has previously developed a set of frameworks for issuing stablecoins, and Sber says it will not just follow these guidelines, but will put a tracking number on each of its digital coins to allow them to support non-cash digital currencies.