Qiwi: Bitcoin Technology is ‘Beyond’ Russia’s Proposed Ban

Stan Higgins
Oct 13, 2015 at 22:07 UTC
Updated Oct 14, 2015 at 13:11 UTC
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New details have emerged about Russian payments giant Qiwi’s plans to issue its own cryptocurrency.

Russian-language bitcoin news site ForkLog spoke with Qiwi communications director Konstantin Koltsov and Alexei Arkhipov, who is overseeing the project, about the “bitruble”, which made waves in Russian media circles last month after the firm announced its intentions.

Russian government officials like financial ombudsman Pavel Medvedev later denounced the plan, but the company has moved ahead, filing for relevant trademarks and floating the notion of backing the currency with commodities.

Koltsov and Arkhipov defended Qiwi’s cryptocurrency initiative in the interview, noting that different market players have differing opinions on the plan. They went on to suggest that Qiwi believes the project has the potential to cut costs and improve operations within the payment processor.

The representatives told ForkLog:

“We think that cryptotechnology is beyond any prohibition. Qiwi is a major processor, and load operation has always been a pressing challenge for us. We’d be happy to reduce costs for [our] back-office – that’s where our development actually originates. We are interested in anything that could reduce costs and expenses related to end-user services.”

The two disclosed that Qiwi has been “researching cryptotechnologies for like a year, maybe a bit more”, spending roughly six months on the cryptocurrency initiative from inception to its announcement.

According to the company, the cryptocurrency could be launched as early as next year, but that its decision will ultimately depend on whether Russia moves ahead with a proposed ban on money substitutes, a prohibition that would cover digital currencies.

“Certainly, we are ready to release the project in 2016, but we have to wait for the Central Bank’s reaction; its opinion and vision as to when and how it has to happen is important,” the two said in the interview.

The Qiwi reps declined to get into specifics about the make-up of its cryptocurrency project, stating:

“We’d like to keep it under wraps for a while. Our company is amongst the market’s major players, and we are not willing to build up an artificial interest to our designs.”

Read the full interview here.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled Konstantin Koltsov’s last name as “Kolstov”.

Moscow city panorama via Shutterstock

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