Russian Central Bank Group Prepares ‘Masterchain’ Ethereum Fork for Testing

A group of Russian banks, payment firms and financial startups have completed an initial working version of their previously announced ‘Masterchain’ blockchain software.

Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, the Association of FinTech – a group formed in January under governance of the Central Bank of Russia – completed the work at the end of May. Built using a fork of the ethereum blockchain, the software is now ready to be used in ongoing proofs-of-concept, according to those close to the effort.

But while built from the ethereum software, there is one key difference: Masterchain is built according to domestic cryptography standards.

In interview, Kirill Ivkushkin, the Sberbank representative in the association’s distributed ledger working group, suggested that this step was necessary to ensure enterprise blockchain applications could seek wider use in Russia.

Ivkushkin told CoinDesk:

“When there is private, personal data is involved, we must use cryptography which is certified in Russia. The direct use of platforms like ethereum and Hyperledger is limited to platforms that don’t involve storage of personal data.”

Ivkushkin said that Masterchain will use many of the techniques and features of ethereum, though it will not be able to connect to existing nodes running software for the public protocol.

With the completion of the software, Masterchain will now be used to help create minimum viable products for group members, in use cases as diverse as peer-to-peer insurance and mortgage tracking and issuance.

Hinting at the work to come, he concluded:

“The goal is for members to implement use cases in production between the end of this year and mid-2018.”

Tech testing image via Shutterstock

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