Russia’s Largest Bank Pulls Off Blockchain Pilot Using IBM Platform

Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia, has succeeded in a blockchain-based pilot, conducting a transaction based on technology provided by IBM.

Sberbank carried out the first blockchain-based transaction in Russia on Wednesday, November 29. The biggest lender in Russia used IBM’s blockchain platform, which is built on Hyperledger Fabric.

As noted by Stella Kudachkina, managing director of Sberbank CIB, blockchain technology made the transfers faster:

“Above all, the advantage of using this technology when performing settlements is the high speed at which transfers are made: after the money is sent, the transaction is recorded on the receiver’s account almost instantly, in real time, unlike the traditional system that is used to make transfers.”

She stressed that the experiment was the first of its kind on Russian territory:

“The blockchain solution created by Sberbank has allowed us to make the first pilot payment transaction - using IBM Blockchain technology - in the history of the Russian banking industry.”

The IT infrastructure of Sberbank provided the basis for a service to create a uniform transaction procedure, a network certification center, and a client web application with a personal account feature. Also, Sberbank and Alfa-Bank served as hosts for the blockchain network nodes.

“The created technological process is the base scenario on the basis of which there should be developed a new accounting functional should,” Sberbank members said.

The pilot test had several partners besides IBM, including MegaFon and MegaLabs.

Sberbank CEO Herman Gref has repeatedly voiced support for the blockchain technology, noting that the lender would rely on it. He believes the global economy will significantly change within the next decade thanks to blockchain adoption. 

In Russia, blockchain is considered a legitimate technology, with believers including the government. In mid-October, it announced the launch of a pilot to use blockchain in the Unified State Register of Real Estate for the territory of Moscow. The government has recommended that Sberbank, the Bank for Development (VEB), and Rostelecom get involved in the project.

Multinational companies and banks have applied IBM's blockchain solution in various pilots. At the beginning of October, a group of banks including Commerzbank, Erste Group Bank, Bank of Montreal and CaixaBank joined the initiative of IBM and UBS to support blockchain for trade finance operations.