It seems that the government of Russia plans to solidify its efforts in order to become a dominant force in the nascent blockchain industry. President Vladimir Putin has emphasized that blockchain technology is one of the most important features of Russia’s new “digital economy” program and said the country cannot be “late in the race” for blockchain dominance.
According to The New York Times publication, a meeting of representatives from 25 leading countries was held last year at the International Standards Organization (ISO) meeting in Tokyo, to work on international regulation and standards for blockchain technology. While most countries sent representatives from the technical side of things, many were surprised to find out that the head of Russian Delegation Grigory Marshalko was employed by FSB, a successor for the infamous intelligence agency KGB. Moreover, two other members of the four person Russian delegation were also FSB agents.
Upon asking Mr. Marshalko the reason behind huge resources that are devoted towards blockchain technology by Russian government, they were given a curious answer. He said that, “Look, the internet belongs to the Americans — but blockchain will belong to us.“ It is obvious from such comments and even more so from the emphasis of Mr. Putin that influence on the blockchain technology sphere will be a hotly contested geopolitical battle and Russia aims to be in pole position when it starts.
Established in 1947, the ISO was created to ensure that important and groundbreaking technologies are built in the same way around the world. It has created standards in a wide array of industries since then. Obviously, Russia was not the only country to send a powerful delegation as China has officials from the finance ministry while the United States were represented by top directors of IBM and Microsoft.
Gilbert Verdian, the head of British delegation and founder of Quant Network claimed that, “It is a very sought-out technology today, because it really does create the foundation for the future that is coming. To get behind it and back it now is going to put people at an advantage, either politically or economically.“
Blockchain was introduced with bitcoin digital currency but has been implemented in numerous areas since then, ranging from voting to financial trading to data storage. Having an abundance of engineering and IT talent and resources, Russia has produced such companies as Ethereum, Telegram and Waves to name a few. President Putin has even met with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin last year for a brief conversation and expressed his support for the company.
It seems that governments from leading countries around the globe, such as the US, China, Russia, Singapore, Japan, the EU, Switzerland among others have begun to realize the enormous potential of blockchain technology to handle such tasks as storing ID records, transaction data, issuing national currencies and so on and so forth. Due to its decentralized nature, it does not seem likely that a single country could dominate blockchain as has been the case in the past with other innovations but gaining influence within the distributed ledger technology seems to be a priority in any case.
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