The Russian state-owned development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) has announced a pilot for a new blockchain-based payment system with the regional government of Kaliningrad.
The agreement underpinning the pilot scheme were worked out by Kaliningrad governor Anton Alikhanov and VEB chairman Sergei Gorkov last week. In a statement released to the press, Alikhanov said that VEB’s “competence in the area of blockchain technology” will help the regional government to “improve the quality of management decisions.”
The pilot follows the announcement of trials of blockchain technology in the land registry system of parts of the Russian government that are due to begin in July 2018. While this trail is being conducted by central government, the VEB deal is notable due to its joining of private and public interests.
The regional government and the development hope that the use of blockchain will improve the quality of public services by increasing transparency and cutting costs.
The pilot will focus on bringing blockchain-based ‘social payments’ and other electronic services to the Kaliningrad region. The aim is to improve the efficiency of public and corporate governance. No other details about the scheme were given out so we will have to wait until the scheme is over to learn whether it was a success or not.
VEB has been interested in blockchain technology for some time. In 2017, the bank made public a blockchain product strategy and launched a blockchain research centre. The stated aim was to increase the organisation’s working knowledge of the technology and to give it a place to test use cases.
The statement also gave some reasons behind the choice of Kaliningrad for the scheme:
“The Kaliningrad region is one of the most active subjects of the Russian Federation in terms of implementing advanced technologies that support the development of Russia’s digital economy.”