Russia’s central bank is continuing to grow its blockchain footprint, having announced the creation of a new FinTech association focused in part on studying the technology.

Officially formed on 28th December, the group includes representatives from major Russian banks including Alfa Bank, Sberbank and VTB, among others. Payments processor Qiwi and the National System of Payment Cards (NSPK), which operates Russia’s nationwide Mir charge card, are also on board.

Qiwi CEO Sergey Solonin will be the association’s new chief going forwards, the firm said earlier this week. Among financial companies in Russia, Qiwi has emerged as a prominent proponent of the tech.

In addition to blockchain, the Bank of Russia said it would also be investigating identification technologies and new payment system frameworks through the association.

The bank’s deputy governor Olga Skorobogatova said in a statement:

“The Association’s key objectives will include the development and introduction of new technological solutions to ensure the development of the Russian financial market. It will also promote digitalisation of the Russian economy.”

The announcement is the latest signal that the Bank of Russia intends to play a leading – and visible – role in the experimentation and deployment of blockchain within the country’s financial sector.

The central bank has made no secret of its interest in the tech. Early last year, Skorobogatova said that financial institutions in Russia should prepare for wider use in the years ahead.

In recent months, the Russian central bank has been undertaking a hands-on education into the tech, unveiling a system for financial messaging dubbed “Masterchain” in October.

The Russian government, too, has been exploring blockchain concepts of its own, while its national securities depository has launched similar efforts in conjunction with other institutions.

Image Credit: E. O. / Shutterstock, Inc.

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