Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank by assets, has opened a blockchain lab to develop, test and pilot blockchain projects.
The newly established blockchain lab will focus on developing business solutions for the wider Sberbank Group in addition to cooperating with startups, associations, communities and alliances to further blockchain awareness and development.
Blockchain specialists will arrive as new hires to work under the laboratory’s roof, particularly those with experience in creating and implementing solutions for existing financial and corporate products. When staffed and running, the laboratory will ‘test cutting-edge solutions, generate ideas to develop blockchain-based solutions, create product prototypes, carry out pilot projects, and implement applied business solutions for Sberbank Group’ an accompanying release added.
In statements, Sberbank senior vice president Igor Bulantsev said:
“Blockchain can considerably reshape many business areas related to the financial market, as well as classic activities of the bank and our clients…It is important to note that blockchain helps market participants cooperate more efficiently.”
Sberbank claims it is already undertaking over 20 blockchain-based pilot projects which include an endeavor with a federal agency for the encrypted exchange of documents.
Sberbank is notably a member of two of the world’s largest open-source blockchain consortiums. Following a failed attempt to join the banking blockchain consortium led by New York-based R3, the Russian bank became a member of the cross-industry Hyperledger Blockchain Project in September 2016. A year later, Sberbank joined the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), becoming the first Russian financial institution to join the working group developing enterprise solutions based on open-source Ethereum technology. Sberbank was also among select participants in ‘Masterchain’ – an Ethereum blockchain prototype deployed by Russia’s central bank to test interbank transactions.
Sberbank’s own blockchain lab follows a prediction from CEO and noted bitcoin advocate Herman Gref who claimed “the application of blockchain technology in commercial applications” will happen in 2019.