- The bank is licensed to issue digital assets in Russia and has been exploring blockchain technology in banking.
- Two years ago, Sber released the first blockchain-focused ETF.
Russia’s largest lender Sberbank is working on a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform to launch in May on Ethereum. According to a report shared with the local news agency, Interfax, the system is currently running a closed beta that will turn into open testing in March.
The announcement was made during the 7th Perm Economic Congress Friday by the product director of Sberbank Blockchain Laboratory, Konstantin Klimenko, who described the technology as the new banking of the future. ‘‘We have set a big goal for ourselves, to make the Russian DeFi ecosystem number one,’’ he said.
The Defi Network is to Be Operational by April
Klimenko said, as of April, the new system would be operational and support commercial transactions. It would run on Ethereum and be accessible on the crypto wallet extension MetaMask, he noted, adding that the DeFi service has the potential to replace conventional banking.
Decentralized Finance or DeFi is a system that lets users access financial services like – lending, investments, and insurance – on a distributed ledger technology, also known as a blockchain. It uses smart contracts or self-executing computer programs that work on the principle of anonymity and are not controlled by third parties.
It is not the first time that Sber bank is exploring blockchain technology, especially in light of the sanctions against Russia since it invaded neighbouring Ukraine. In March 2022, the lender won a license for the issuance and exchange of digital assets, shortly after sanctions forced it to scale down operations in most European countries.
Even before the license was issued, the bank was already working on the then-first blockchain-focused ETF in Russia as of 2021. Known as Sber Blockchain Economy ETF, the fund gives investors exposure to crypto trading companies like Coinbase.