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In Eurasia, Cryptocurrency Is the Next Big Thing

Kazakhstan launches what it hopes will be an incubator for digital money and financial technology startups.

14 July 2017

Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev recently mooted the notion of a global cryptocurrency system – like Bitcoin, only officially respectable.

 

“It is high time to look into the possibility of launching the international payment unit. It will help the world get rid of monetary wars, black-marketeering and decrease volatility [on the] markets,” Nazarbaev said at an economic forum in Astana, Kazinform reported.

 

Nazarbaev has broached high-concept ideas in the past, but this one may have just taken a first step toward reality. As Finance Magnates reports, the government-founded Astana International Financial Center yesterday announced the start of what is envisaged as a regional hub for cryptocurrency startups.

 

In geek-speak, the project will toss around ideas for “blockchain solutions” in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Blockchain – the basis for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as well as cyber-security systems – uses distributed databases and cryptography to enable secure user-to-user links and financial transactions.

 

“Kazakhstan became the second country in the world, after Japan, which recognized the need for the development of the cryptocurrency market system at the governmental level,” said Natalia Sheiko, a partner at Kesarev Consulting, one of the project’s founders.

 

The initiative is deeply rooted in the post-Soviet sphere: in addition to Kesarev, based in Astana, Kyiv, and Moscow, the partners include a Ukrainian law firm and the Russia-based crowdfunding platform Waves, while accounting giant Deloitte also has a finger in the pie, Finance Magnates says.

 

Blockchain seems to be booming. Investors have sunk more than a billion dollars into blockchain startups in the past few years, and the market is forecast to be worth $8 billion by 2024, according to the cyber-security news site SC Media.

 

Eastern Europe is very active in adopting the new technology. Last year the Polish Digital Affairs Ministry launched a campaign to promote the cashless economy and policies favorable to blockchain-based security systems, and conferences in Odessa and Lviv have publicized the use of such security systems in the region, SC Media says.

 

Near Kyiv, a fraudproof blockchain-based voting system is being tested, while a group based in Odessa is working on using the technology to hold state auctions in a more transparent way.

 

 

  • The Astana International Financial Center will be governed by English common-law principles and will have an independent financial court, Nazarbaev said on its website.

 

  • Poland is also the birthplace of the Golem Network, a kind of global market for idle computing power. Golem raised the equivalent of more than $8 million in just 20 minutes last November in one of the most successful ICOs (Initial Coin Offering) ever, Blockchain News reported.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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