Russian search engine Yandex has started tracking the exchange rate of bitcoin for the US dollar, the euro and the British pound, but oddly enough not the Russian rouble.
Yandex is by far the biggest search engine in Russia, with a 60% market share. It also has a big following in several of the countries that are part of the Commonwealth of Independent States. In 2011 Yandex managed to raise $1.3bn in a NASDAQ initial public offering, the biggest IPO since Google went public seven years earlier. The company also operates an e-commerce payment system, dubbed Yandex.Money.
As of this week, the search engine allows users to check the bitcoin exchange rate directly, simply by typing in specific requests like bitcoin rate or bitcoin price in the search box. The converter springs into action, showing how many euros, pounds or dollars the specified amount of bitcoin is worth, based on the current exchange rate. It appears that the tool uses the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index in its calculations.
Yandex employs a very similar converter for all major currencies. As we said, the Russian rouble is conspicuously absent from the list of supported currencies, at least for the time being. Digit.ru asked Yandex why the Rouble was not included and the answer was simple - the main trading floors in Russia report the BTC rate against the US dollar, not the national currency.
As soon as the traders convert to roubles, Yandex will include roubles in its block information based on SERP, to address the matter and extend support to roubles, the company told Digit.ru.
It is interesting to point out that Yandex.Money launched a couple of years ago as a universal internet payment solution for merchants, businesses and other organisations. The service is limited to Russia and a handful of other countries, but it allows users to add most popular payment methods to their websites with relative ease.
There is still no word on bitcoin support though and it is unclear whether true digital currencies will ever be embraced by Yandex.Money.
At the moment, the service supports MasterCard and Visa and it allows users to make cash payments via 170,000 payment terminals throughout the country. Mobile payments are also supported on select carriers and customers pay no fees if they make payments using cards, cash or e-money. Yandex.Money is currently the largest internet payment system in Russia, with more than 14 million users as of mid-2013.
Try out the CoinDesk Bitcoin Calculator.