Putin Says Russia Must Pick up Pace in Blockchain Race

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he believes blockchain technology is the wave of the future, making it paramount that his country enters the race as early as possible, Bitcoinist reports.

Putin spoke about the future of blockchain technology with Herman Gref, the head of Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution. The conversation was published by Russia Insight, an independent YouTube news channel

“We need [blockchain technology]. … Stone Age has not ended due to lack of stones, but because new technologies appeared. Those late in this race will instantly, very fast, be under full dependence from leaders of these processes,” Putin said.

Gref has long been a proponent of blockchain, and has even argued in favor of cryptocurrency. He believes cryptocurrencies will become an important staple of the global financial system. Last November, the Russian banker told an association of entrepreneurs that cryptocurrencies are “natural outcome of blockchain technology.”

Blockchain technology is one of the key components of cryptocurrency networks such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

“We need professionals in this field,” he said.

He also called for “very careful regulations” that wouldn’t prohibit virtual currency.

“Caution is needed, but it is clear that we need legislation on the matter because this technology has a huge impact,” Gref said.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies remain outlawed in Russia as a payment method, but draft legislation was introduced late last month that would legalize and regulate virtual currencies to curb illicit activity. The Russian central bank has said the law isn’t strong enough and needs improvement.

Putin previously instructed the finance ministry to look into the creation of a “cryptoruble.” But according to Interfax, finance minister Anton Siluanov shot down the idea in a letter last week, saying he would support financiers creating a Russian virtual currency but not the government.