In Russian finance, Sergey Gorkov is a very big deal.
Reputedly a former KGB officer, he was the number 2 at Russia’s biggest bank (Sberbank), and now runs Vneshekonombank (VEB), another huge government bank, whose Chairman of the Board is none other than the Prime Minister of Russia. The bank has a long history and reputation of being closest to the government, its pocket development bank, promoting government policies.
The 49 year old has a reputation of being one of the smarter, forward-looking bankers modernizing Russia’s finances. Americans may be familiar with his name because it came up in the RussiaGate hoax because of a meeting he had with Jared Kushner.
Speaking at Davos, Gorkov was obviously making a pre-planned statement, because he specially donned a black hoody with ‘Blockchain Heroes’ emblazoned across the front.
Gorkov spends a good 5 minutes lauding blockchain, explaining how Russia is ahead of the rest of the world primarily because a commitment has been made to this at the government level, and he stresses that the Russian government’s view on this differs greatly from other governments. He explains what the Russian government is doing to make Russia a leader in the field.
Very worthwhile to listen to what this man says. He speaks for the smart-money in Russia, and around the president.
Out of the world’s top five blockchain companies, three are Russian.
The following clip taken from Russian nightly news (with transcript below) details the significant economic growth this has in store for Russia.
-Hello Sergei Nikolaevich. (Gorkov)
– You have such an uncharacteristic appearance for Davos, blockchain heroes! A session on blockchain has just ended, you were the only Russian participant there. Why such interest, so many speakers, and so much attention for this technology?
– Lately, blockchain technology is making its way around the world, and some countries are beginning to announce its introduction projects, and these are various countries in Asia, Africa, and even Europe. But everyone is in the initial stage.
What’s nice is that if you look back a year ago, it was impossible to say that we, Russia, differs technologically in blockchain now I can say that we are becoming leaders in implementing blockchain technology in the world. And not even from the technological standpoint, although we have things to brag about, because out of 5 largest blockchain companies, 3 have Russian roots.
But also because the level with which blockchain is put on the digital economy agenda, blockchain exists in the government’s digital economy program.
And we are different from most of the countries in how we view the issue and are dealing with it.
– Can you tell us exactly how we are different from the other countries?
– First, how the issue is viewed, what I already said, digital economy. The government has confirmed the program, and blockchain is there. We are practically the only country where blockchain technology is put on such a high agenda.
It already has the government’s attention, and it’s creating hype that’s everyone’s talking about, in the whole country.
Second, we have the facilities and the technology that we’re ready to implement. These are the first steps, but they are very significant ones. Because in general, all the other countries are also trying to make these first steps, and in reality now’s the time to race ahead of everyone else and become the first, I’m confident that Russia is becoming the leader, and is capable of being a world leader in implementing blockchain technology.
– Sergei Nikolaevich, I’ll ask you some more questions right now, you just mentioned blockchain competency center, the blockchain commune, there are very specific project there already, property growth and a whole line of other ones, How are they advancing and how are they perceived, because you probably speak about them here in Davos.
– They are progressing well, the commune was opened last year. It’s a good name because this place is appropriate not only in name, but also in spirit.
Because we made an open platform from a large number of residents. Largest companies representing this technology are residents of the commune. They’re all our residents, and we’re creating a blockchain synergy made up of all kinds of beliefs.
From our point of view this is very important, because it’s not just a technological center, it’s more of a technological and ideological, call it what you will, center, that’s ready to promote and develop this technology.
What are we doing: 6 start-up projects, all are in good shape. This year we’ll complete part of them.
A big Moscow real-estate project is starting and there are many details to work out, because the project will require changes in regulations, relationships, and many other things. But it’s very important to make this technological and organizational step forward. And we’re making it together, with government’s help, and with the blockchain workgroup, made with the government’s support.
I think these are the right actions, and I can say that that from among the representatives of a large number of countries at this session, we stand out very much in a positive way.
– About the blockchain technology, I recall the first cell phone service, at first it was very primitive and slow, then it progresses, 2g, 3g, 4g, and so on. 5g is approved. Is it similar with blockchain, is it progressing somehow?
– We need to forget that technologies don’t change, they do.
And right now there’s no single ideal blockchain technology either, there’s actually a search and selection of the right technologies, I’m sure there’ll be a couple of them, there’s of few of them on the market right now, a few companies and approaches, and there will be different technologies for different problems.
Why did we create the center? Because a single solution will not solve every problem. We need a place where we can collect different views and tools,for solving this puzzle, This is why this center was made.
But what’s also important, my colleagues were discussing this today, that everyone’s worried, and they talk about this being a new era but we fear it, because with it comes many risks, let’s recall the discussions about Internet in the early 90s.
We thought that email was the maximum that we could do with the Internet. And where is the Internet now? It became our life’s foundation. Trust me in 10 years blockchain will also become a basis of our life in many stages and technologies.
– Can we go back for a second to the Davos Forum agenda, are you meeting, here in Switzerland, with colleagues from Zug, is that right?
– On Friday we’re going to Zug, we want to see how this crypto valley and regulations are set up, because Zug is the most visible sandbox, because a crypto sandbox was created in the whole canton of Zug, we’d like to see how the regulation is organized, how projects are created, and how was it transformed. Because it’s difficult to replicate new technologies all other the country.
It’s scary, and there are many risks, so a sandbox mechanism is used. What is a sandbox? You can model and realize projects in a limited geographic area and format. And then you can figure out how to do it all over the country. Zuk was chosen in Switzerland, and it was very successful after a few years.
So we will spend half a day to go and see what our colleagues have created.
– Let’s recall the experience in China, when they were undertaking their market reforms, they also picked a local area, conducted experiments and if everything went well they did it elsewhere.
Sergei Nikolaevich, last question. You are not a miner, I doubt you work on developing hardware for faster calculations, what’s the VEB’s role in this process?
– I’m definitely not a miner, VEB is a development institute, and its tasks include innovative development in the nation. We identified two strategic directions for ourselves, first is supporting the ecosystem, because it’s important to create an innovative ecosystem. this includes the umbrella funds and the possibility of speeding up the projects and so on and so forth. On the other hand, we need to focus in the direction of breakthroughs where Russian can become a leader. A year ago we were saying that if Russia were to focus on blockchain it would be the leader. Here’s an example that a year ago blockchain wasn’t considered in Russia at all, and now it’s clearly stating its possible leadership in the coming years.
– Sergei Nikolaevich, thank you very much.
– Thank you.
– Good luck to you with blockchain.
– Thank you.
– We’re here with Sergey Gorkov, head of the VEB, and back to the studio.
– Thank you Kolya