Russian Rostec has built a “SWIFT alternative” for cross-border blockchain payments – Ledger Insights

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Russian state-owned company Rostec claims that one of its subsidiaries has developed a blockchain-based international transfer system which it describes as “a real alternative to SWIFT in international settlements”. Rostec has more than 700 operating subsidiaries, most of which are in the defense sector.

The CELLS blockchain platform was developed by the Novosibirsk Institute of Program Systems (NIPS) and supports multi-currency payments, digital currency and identity. It is claimed that the platform can process over 100,000 transactions per second.

“The system will enable the switch to settlements in national currencies, eliminate the risk of sanctions and ensure the independence of national financial policy for clearing participants,” said Oleg Yevtushenko, executive director of Rostec.

After the war in Ukraine, SWIFT blocked access to several Russian banks. But Russia has been searching for years for a way around SWIFT. In 2019, he suggested that the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) develop a BRICS digital currency.

Russia is working on a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and started trials in the middle of last year. Around the same time, Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina expressed interest in the cross-border CBDC. In response, former US Treasury official Michael Greenwald told CNBC: “What worries me is that Russia, China and Iran are each creating central bank digital currencies to operate outside of the dollar and that other countries follow them”.

Chinese state media reacted to the banning of Russian banks from SWIFT, saying it was “gratuitous manipulation by the West”, not to mention the war in Ukraine. China is part of the M-CBDC Bridge project, which explores and develops a cross-border CBDC platform with Hong Kong, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and the BRI.

CBDCs have the potential to fragment the global payment system. Meanwhile, SWIFT plans to play a role in creating interoperability between different CBDCs. Russia is likely to want other avenues.


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