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EU Eyes Blockchain Push With New FinTech Action Plan

The European Union is beefing up its efforts to foster work around new technologies like blockchain.

According to a 2018 Fintech Action Plan released on Thursday, the European Commission – the executive arm of the European Union – plans to form a new Fintech Lab in the second quarter in 2018.

The new initiative will see participants from EU-level and national authorities, as well as technology providers in Europe, seek to raise the “regulatory and supervisory capacity and knowledge” around new technologies, including blockchain.

“Technologies like blockchain can be game changers for financial services and beyond. We need to build an enabling framework to let innovation flourish, while managing risks and protecting consumers,” Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said in a statement.

The report identified areas of possible development, including legal clarifications around smart contracts, initial coin offerings, and other jurisdictional issues raised by the tech.

Indeed, the new plan marks the latest move by the European Union to foster work around blockchain within in a regulated environment.

Currently, according to the document, the European Union has already revised its Payment Services Directive since January this year, which requires banks in the region to open up their communication channels, such as API, to blockchain applications that require payment account integrations, for instance.

The Commission’s FinTech plan also highlighted work already done within its Blockchain Observatory initiative, which was launched last year as part of an effort to create a common framework for use of the tech within the economic bloc.

EU flags image via Shutterstock

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Russia's Sberbank Has Launched a Blockchain Lab

Sberbank, one of the largest banks in Russia, has announced a blockchain laboratory to develop and test blockchain-based solutions.

The new lab aims to generate product prototypes, perform pilot tests and deploy blockchain-based business solutions for Sberbank Group, a press release says.

According to Igor Bulantsev, Sberbank’s senior vice president, blockchain can help in “reshaping” the financial business market, as well as the bank’s activities and services.

Bulantsev said:

“It is important to note that blockchain helps market participants cooperate more efficiently. Hence, Sberbank is making a contribution to the future of the banking industry and our country by launching the blockchain laboratory.”

The project will work on developing advanced technologies in conjunction with the bank’s other laboratories, and is also planning to build collaborations with startups, and via other alliances.

Sberbank’s blockchain lab will appoint blockchain specialists with experience in building and implementing blockchain ideas to existing products as well as creating new approaches to business activities, the release adds.

The launch comes a month after the CEO of Sberbank, Herman Gref, stated that the wider-scale implementation of blockchain in Russia could take as long as a decade. He noted at the time, Russia is “experimenting a lot” on blockchain and added that the bank will introduce some products on a “large scale” this year.

In February of last year, Gref predicted that the use of distributed ledger technology by banks and other incumbents could be just 2–2.5 years away.

Sberbank has launched number of initiatives in the blockchain ecosystem including its recent entrance into the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance – an enterprise-focused consortium. Some of the bank’s blockchain-based pilot projects include joint solutions with Severstal and Federal Antimonopoly Services, among others.

Sberbank image via Shutterstock

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