Russia is testing blockchain payments

Gorkov, AlikhanovVneshecomombank, (VEB), a development bank that is owned by the Russian government and meant to fund the projects aimed at the development of Russian economy, has recently signed a contract with Kaliningrad regional government to create a pilot version of the new payment system that is going to be based on blockchain technology.

The meeting took place last week and included the governor of Kaliningrad Anton Alkikhanov and the chairman of VEB Sergei Gorkov. Alikhanov and Gorkov met in Sochi, at the Russian Invenstment Forum (an annual event “for pesenting Russia’s inventment” attended, among others, by Dmitry Medvedev, the Prime Minister of Russian Federation). The two officials signed the agreement laying the foundations for testing the new technology. Alikhanov stated that “the competence of the bank’s development lies in the area of the blockchain technology” which is expected to help Kaliningrad, the westernmost region of Russia, to “improve the quality of the administrative decisions”.

Gorkov was also very optimistic about the innovative project. In his statement, he called Kaliningrad “one of the most active subjects of Russian Federation in the area of implementing advanced technologies which support the development of Russia’s digital economy.” He also said that the pilot blockchain project “touches upon the social sphere – the area in which one of the basic functions of the state is actualized. Implementing the new technologies allows to significantly improve the quality of these services – enhance the transparency of the system, get rid of the unnecessary paperwork, simplify the service and make it more comfortable for the citizens.” In addition to these prospective benefits, according to VEB chairman, the integration of the blockchain technology can help Russia save a lot of money: “Blockchain technology will give us the opportunity to save the expenses in this area, which currently comprise trillions of rubles across the country.”

Previously, there have already been attempts to research the potential of blockchain implementation for the public sector, when Russian government decided to test a land registry system based on blockchain, but the agreement signed between VEB and Kaliningrad is a significant new aggregation of public and private interests.

blockchain, kaliningradThe parties plan to work together to bring cutting-edge technologies and solutions to Kaliningrad region to enhance the efficiency of the corporate and state management. The expertise to support the project in the area of social payments using blockchain technology will be provided by the Blockchain Technology Research Center, an initiative of VEB that was revealed in the autumn of 2017. VEB has worked together with Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Communications and Mass Median, and the Ministry of Finance to “create the first center that focuses on blockchain and quantum technologies at the National University of Science and Technology (MISIS)”, as Sergei Gorkov said in his press release. He also added that there were plans “to create a group on investment funds with external financing from both Russian and foreign investors.”

In recent years, Russia has expressed increasing interest in blockchain and in its possible application in the area of public services. As early as August 2017, Vladimir Demin, advisor to the VEB’s Chairman, said that VEB aims at changing the paradigm of the state’s functions, and that blockchain is likely to completely transform Russia within five years. According to Demin, “I presume that, if someone falls into lethargic sleep today and wakes up in five years, they will not recognize the country.”

 

Read more here – https://www.coindesk.com/regional-government-russia-test-blockchain-payments/

 

Who’ll dethrone Bitcoin? The 3 best alternative coins

2017 has been the year of cryptocurrencies, with more people realizing their value and investing in them. Major corporates that initially had tried to stifle the growth of cryptocurrencies have jumped on the bandwagon and started utilizing the blockchain technology that is the basis of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency and continues to dominate this field. It has gained worldwide attention this year, with its price rising from below $1,000 to over $20,000.

While most of the attention has been on Bitcoin, several other digital currencies known as alternative coins or altcoins have risen to challenge Bitcoin’s dominance and have quite a few cases even experienced higher growth in value compared to Bitcoin. The number of altcoins has however seen a tremendous rise with more than 1,300 altcoins currently being offered. While some have shown great promise and offered great value and features to their users, most of these altcoins have just perpetuated the features of other currencies and hence have found it difficult to rise in value.

The three most promising altcoins are:

1. Ethereum
Ethereum is a revolutionary cryptocurrency whose technology has been adopted by very many global organizations with great results. It was developed by the then 21-year-old programmer, Vitalik Buterin in 2015 and in two years, it has become Bitcoin’s biggest competitor. It currently has the second-highest market capitalization after Bitcoin with a market value of $90 billion. While most cryptocurrencies have focused on value transfer exclusively, Ethereum has set itself apart with its revolutionary smart contracts technology. These are self-executing contracts that contain agreements between two parties written in code and recorded on a decentralized ledger known as a blockchain. This technology has become widely integrated by many industries, with the major beneficiaries being supply chain management, logistics, law and insurance.
This has driven the price of Ether, Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency, through the roof and currently stands at $929 having begun the year 2017 at $8. This represents an unbelievable 10,000% price rise! With more industries adopting smart contracts, the value of Ethereum will keep rising.

2. Ripple
While Ethereum has set itself apart through smart contracts, Ripple has established itself as the currency of choice for money transfers. This sector has long been dominated by global financial institutions which were not only slow and inefficient but also very costly. A cross-border transfer used to take three days using the Swift protocol and would cost a significant amount of money, but this has all been changed by Ripplenet, Ripple’s blockchain-based transfer network. Using Ripplenet, these transfers only take seconds and their price has been reduced by close to 90%.
This has led many reputable financial institutions to adopt Ripple for transfers. These include JP Morgan, Bank of America, Santander, UBS, Barclays, Unicredit, American Express and Credit Suisse. This endorsement by these institutions has seen Ripple rise to become the fourth most valuable cryptocurrency worth over $43 billion. This cryptocurrency, whose native token is XRP, is making strategic partnerships that will see it become the default transfer medium and thus will keep its price soaring high.

3. IOTA
IOTA has been grabbing the headlines of late thanks to its meteoric rise in value. This has resulted mainly from its recently launched data marketplace with the participation of the biggest tech companies including Cisco, Samsung, Fujitsu and Microsoft. This data marketplace will provide a decentralized and secure platform where users can sell data collected by various devices.
This is just one of the many strategic partnerships IOTA is taking to cement its place as the cryptocurrency of the future. IOTA is a cryptocurrency that focuses on the Internet of Things (IoT) and which seeks to provide secure machine-to-machine communication which will form the basis of the IoT revolution. The Internet of Things has grown rapidly over the past few years with over 20 billion devices currently interconnected. With this number expected to grow to 75 billion by 2025, IOTA will be the most important cryptocurrency in the near future. IOTA also provides many of the other features such as privacy, fast transactions, zero transaction fees and more but its focus on the IoT industry which is expected to be worth $100 billion by 2020 is what sets it apart from its peers.

While the number of altcoins is huge, these three are set to dominate 2018 with their unique products. They are the most likely to dethrone Bitcoin as the king of cryptocurrencies as the world focuses more on extra value of cryptocurrencies apart from what Bitcoin offers.