Russia has allocated about 3.04 billion rubles ($53 million) to develop its digital economy, according to an order by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev published on Saturday.
The fund will be used to finance IT infrastructure and technology research centres in the country and boost Russia’s information security, said the order, which was published on the government’s website, Xinhua reported.
Russia’s state program Digital Economy, approved in July 2017, consists of five areas — regulation, education and human resources, cyber security, research, and IT infrastructure.
The Russian economy largely relies on natural resource exports and arms sales. The country is seeking to improve the structure of its economy.
“Digital conversion of the economy is an issue of our global competitiveness and national security … We should have a full-fledged digital environment,” Medvedev said at a government meeting last year.
On March 21st, the Russian Trade Delegation in the UK took part in the Eurasia FinTech Forum. The event was organised by the UK industry-led body TheCityUK in cooperation with the London Stock Exchange. The Eurasia FinTech Forum took place as part of the one of the worldwide leading fintech event – UK FinTech Week 2018.
The Eurasia FinTech Forum brought together senior fintech policy leaders from the international centres of Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkey and other countries from across the Eurasia region including Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.
The Russian Session was represented by Ekaterina Golub, the Moscow International Financial Taskforce, Pavel Shust, the Russian Electronic Money Association, and Ekaterina Andreeva, FinTech Projects at NAUFOR.
Presented during the Russian session inputs on new trends in the Russian fintech market were very welcomed by the international attendees. The significant progress achieved by the Russo-British Joint Liaison Group on Creating International Financial Centre in Moscow was also highly appreciated during this event. The audience was very supportive about the new initiative of delivering best competence to the Russian entrepreneurs via new highly professional body which is represented by advisers specialising in fintech consulting.
The forum reported that both VC investment and private equity investment reached peak levels in 2017. Today fintech has become the most dynamic economic sector worldwide.
The Eurasia FinTech Forum provided attendees with the brilliant opportunity to network with UK-based investors and best professionals within the fintech community. This forum also involved businesses in sharing together innovative ideas on how to develop fintech market globally.
▪ Russian Parliament held hearings on the potential of digital economy in Russia. Digital economy became a focus of national politics recently, with the ministries, law-makers and think-tanks heavily involved in the discussions. The hearings were focused on the legal and financial aspects of developing country’s digital economy, raising crucial questions, among which were: digital and biometric identification, regulatory sandboxes, lack of skilled human recourses and others. At the moment, most advances are more theoretical than practical. But hopefully, the result will materialize.
▪ Payments via messenger. According to the representative of Russian Government Mikhail Akimov, new way of cashless payments may soon appear in Russia. Akimov mentioned that payment cards will lose their leading position giving way to payments using smartphones. It is yet unclear how payments in internet messengers will work. However, there is a possibility that the technology will leverage the National Payment System infrastructure. Probably, Russian government wants to replicate the success of the Chinese WeChat which became extremely popular for non-card small value payments.
▪ Russian company “Bitcoin Changer” offers to change bitcoins to rubles and dollars without a fee. The website of the company (btc2rur.ru) was registered in 2017 and some sources say that the company is connected to the «Interkommerts” bank. The website offers exchanging schemes that are yet unregulated in Russia and moreover can be declared as illegal. The information on the website states: «Service is an element of cashing scheme of officially unaccounted money. We do not all quite right within the laws of the Russian Federation, but we can offer the best rate». The only contact is a phone number that is tied to the account in the Telegram. Meanwhile, Ministry of Communications suggested to create specialized state exchangers for local miners – so that they can convert digital currencies into fiat money in a controlled environment.