An annual event held since 1997, St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is attended by business and finance leaders in Russia and from all around the world. It is “dedicated to the discussion of key economic issues facing Russia, emerging markets and the world in general,” states the official website of the President of Russia. The theme of this year’s forum, held from June 1 to June 3, is “In search of a new balance in the global economy.”
At the 2017 SPIEF, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin. Putin also spoke about Russia’s economic reform and the digital economy, while the central bank discussed bitcoin’s taxation and its own digital currency.
As commented by Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, during the meeting, Putin and Buterin discussed the application of technologies in the country. Reportedly, the president supported the idea of establishing new business relationships following the road paved by Blockchain technology.
Earlier during the Forum, the first Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said that Putin is really enthusiastic about the idea of building a new digital economy in the country and shared that at the moment at least three directions of Blockchain application are being explored and tested, which include the tracking of goods, building identity as well as ownership rights protection systems.
Buterin was among the speakers at the panel discussion on Blockchain economy, which actually became one of the most popular ones. Panelists discussed the potential of the technology to trigger the establishment of a new type of economy, as well as regulatory issues related to that process.
Russian regulators have been struggling so far trying to find a way to put Blockchain applications inside existing regulatory framework. Pseudo-anonymity is what concerns them the most.
“I think this dilemma has no resolution. Regulators will always try to come up with new ways to control and analyze transactions, and people will always try to think how to hide these transactions. It is a sort of mathematical war, but system’s properties will never let any of these sides win.”
Blockchain technology is often compared with another technological invention – the Internet – and the impact of it is expected to be much greater. Just like in the case of the World Wide Web, those countries that decide to be bold and implement technology solutions before anyone else does are going to have a significant competitive advantage.
Russia has a chance to become one of the leaders in the global IT industry. Even though details of the meeting between Putin and Buterin are kept under the seal of secrecy, one detail leaked – the president is ready to give full support for the development of Blockchain technology, what would definitely result in a much greater volume of investments coming into the country despite any restrictions and sanctions.