BLOCKCHAIN, Expert opinions

Does Russia need pilot crypto regions?

Earlier this year, head of the State Duma Financial Markets Committee Anatoly Aksakov said the lower house supported a project to appoint pilot regions where operations with cryptocurrency and other crypto tools would be tried out. Such regions would become a kind of regulatory sandboxes that have been discussed so much lately. Invest Foresight interviewed several regional experts, asking them to comment on the idea of ​​pilot crypto regions.

 Dmitry Lomsadze, Lecturer, Department of World Economy and Foreign Economic Activity, Voronezh State University, Voronezh Region

– Let us look at the idea of picking pilot regions for small-scale testing of crypto tools is this way: we are talking about technologies that will service the financial capabilities of specific regions. So regions that are experiencing financial liquidity problems, for example, are unlikely to get on the pilot list. So this is just another ranking. Is this a good thing to do? I do not think so. If we are talking about business activity, crypto tools are used in the financial sector of the economy, but that sector is not well developed in every region. Moscow, St. Petersburg, probably several regions in the Urals – the number of such regions is very small.

As for pilot projects, it is clear that we are even behind Belarus in cryptocurrencies and things like that. It would certainly be interesting to see what result these pilot projects will produce. What are their goals – is it technology development, control or monitoring? But one thing is clear – we need to develop crypto tools, especially since approaches to them are now being explored all over the world. Will Voronezh be on the list of such regions? I doubt it.

Igor Zakhidov, Coordinator of the project New Quality of Life in Digital Economy, Rostov Region

– We are working on this. Recently, our chamber of commerce and industry has hosted a roundtable discussion attended by corresponding experts. As of today, a law on cryptocurrencies should have been adopted but the process is slightly faltering. At the same time, I see why this initiative emerged in the first place: pilot crypto regions should exist and this is standard practice of trying a particular solution, when something new is approbated in the territories that are most advanced to one extent or another.

The other thing is that Russian regions are rather unequal as regards their development; some will take part in the projects on a constant basis while others will not. However, efforts have to be taken anyway. During the roundtable discussion, we took note that Belarus, for instance, has all necessary conditions for developing crypto tools. Russia is lagging behind in this respect, and there is a possibility that we will be using Belarusian-made crypto tools just like Russia is now selling shrimps and bananas re-exported from Belarus, unless we actively engage in developing a crypto environment.

Georgy Dykhanov, Chairman, regional branch, All-Russian public organization Delovaya Rossiya (Business Russia), Kaliningrad Region

– I believe that the idea of creating pilot regions to develop crypto tools circulation is rather reasonable. We cannot introduce these tools in legal framework unless we try experimenting. Since it is not possible to conduct this experiment across all Russia at once, the best solution is appointing pilot regions to approbate methods. This is not only about cryptocurrencies; blockchain technologies include much more. Of course, devil is in the details and all aspects should be considered – but the idea itself is very good and viable.

Andrei Udakhin, regional branch, OPORA Russia public association for small and medium-sized entrepreneurship, Volgograd Region

– I think it is early yet to appoint such regions as the idea of the full use of crypto tools is not relevant and popular. I do not see them expanding, and currently there is no point in picking entire pilot regions to develop such technologies.

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