Bitcoin Conquers Official Moscow

News and Analysis

Special: Read in Russian

Following the statement by the head of the Bank of Russia concerning establishment of a working party to study the block chain technology, Russian Bitcoin community gained a true hope for soon integration of cryptocurrency in the local economy.

But things are neither as easy nor as fast as one could want: remember recent attacks of Russian officials on digital currencies or notorious blockages of cryptocurrency-related internet resources.

Creeping Expansion of Bitcoin in Russia

Bitcoin remains in ambiguous state in Russia, which is evidenced by controversial, and sometimes even populist statements of particular officials. Some of them claim that Bitcoin in particular and cryptocurrencies in general are CIAs conspiracy against Russia, while others see great opportunities in digital currency, and some manifest a stiff and wary interest making extremely cautious statements. The resulting environment is generally typical for conservative political structures like the one existing in Russia nowadays.

A good example of high loyalty towards Bitcoin amongst officials is German Gref, who objectively sees digital currencys potential and even invests in Bitcoin. The latter fact was covered last week by Russian and international media. However, one could assume that other Russian officials have Bitcoins as well. Maybe, even our April Fools joke about Dmitri Medvedevs investment in cryptocurrency has a grain of truth.

Cryptocurrency Expansion in the Minds of the Officials

The second of last weeks sensations is QIWI CEOs statement of intent to launch so called bitruble, i.e. their own digital currency equivalent to Russian ruble. Almost a year ago, some developers tried to launch RUBLE cryptocurrency project, which has now officially sunk into oblivion having failed to gather advertisement dividends from hungry investors. The case of QIWI may be far more serious, of course, if its not another attempt to attract investment from foreign fintech sector.

On the background of QIWIs bitruble, conservative wing of Russian elites was not long in assessment of the companys initiative having performed another conservative pirouette and called it technical hooliganism. At the same time, some positive feedback from Russian president Vladimir Putin concerning certain perspectives of Bitcoin technologies came back to surface.

However, in keeping with the best traditions of the presidents speech writers, the statement was extremely oiled and diplomatical, and if not for media hysteria in Bitcoin-positive context, there would have been no grounds for suspecting Russian government in sympathy for digital currency. Anyway, reduction of criticism towards Bitcoin from Russian Central Banks head Elvira Nabiullina is also evident, even though she has much more pressing matters than a fight with cryptocurrencies.

Generally one may conclude that integration of Bitcoin and cryptotechnologies in the minds of Russian officials is successful. Unfortunately, Russia is not a place where they prepare background for new technologies and regulatory frameworks in Western tranditions (one could recall efforts by American Bitcoin companies to provide massive enlightenment of officials and congresspersons in respect to cryptocurrencies). So, waiting for further climate warming is all that Russian Bitcoin community can actually do. This might be an early statement, but the ice seems to break down, and Bitcoin integration in Russian official consciousness has finally started. Now, the more often official Moscow will hear and pronounce the sacred mantra of bitcoin, cryptocurrency, block chain, the faster Russia will finally manage to part brass rags with its reputation of third worlds conservative stronghold. At least in terms of financial technologies.

New Opportunities for Startups

Activation of Bitcoin-related entrepreneurs and startups is also a positive signal for Russian bitcoiners. Recently, one of those startups emerged to crowdfunding platform Boomstarter. The project is intended for establishment of a platform for cell phone accounts topping-up directly with cryptocurrency. The projects author appeals to microtasking and faucet sites abundant on the web that give away some amounts of cryptocurrency for free, and offers to find an opportunity to send those assets to the users cell phone.

Currently 7Pay is at working prototype phase, and its creators try to attract assets to develop the project and expand their services capable of being paid for with cryptocurrency. We should note that their site enlists most cell phone operators working within Russia. Moreover, they provide opportunities to pay for licensed software, housing and communal services, games, passages and rides, bank account refilling, and direct exchange of cryptocurrencies. So, if youre not apathetic about Russias economic development and youre looking for a local Bitcoin startup to invest in, 7Pay is a worthy candidate for your support.

The Ice Broke Up

Last year, the community saw lots of bad and sometimes even awful news from Russia. It involves both integration processes of digital currencies and active participation of government structures in a senseless process of internet censorship. Sooner or later, official Moscow will have to opt for the tactics named if you cant defeat it, lead it. Then digital currencies will become a full-fledged part of the countrys economy. Even current block chain-based financial technologies outrun modern regulatory and theoretical backgrounds not only in Russia, but in the whole world, so this process may benefit Bitcoin as well.

Economic science is still on the threshold of deep upheaval and understanding of Bitcoins nature via scientific research and analytics. There still is no global definition of Bitcoin in legal and economic terms. Thats why Bitcoin integration in regions like Russia is a long and quite controversial process but it has finally begun.

Toly Kaplan special for ForkLog

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