Russia’s largest bank to abandon national blockchain project, but remains open to alternatives like Quorum

Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, is leaving a blockchain project backed by Russia’s central bank, citing slow development and lack of efficiency, CoinDesk writes.

The Russian central bank helped launch Masterchain in 2017, onboarding five of Russia's largest banks. The deployment of Masterchain's mortgage pilot was originally scheduled for this month, following trials.

But Sberbank’s head of blockchain lab, Oleg Abdrashitov, said the bank had decided to leave the project because it is proving “inefficient, insecure and slow.” For instance, it reportedly takes three minutes to upload a 30-kilobyte zip file containing one mortgage bond onto Masterchain, using an architecture similar to Ethereum's but in a permissioned setting. Abdrashitov also said the project has become too centralised since it “fully depends on the FinTech Association’s central server, that controls mining and consensus.”

Due to a small number of nodes, he also sees potential security issues.

“Proof-of-work systems are good for thousands of participants, but if there are only five, it’s easy for one of them to rewrite the ledger,” Abdrashitov said.

Still, Sberbank is not giving up on blockchain technology altogether. It is now lookingto work on other enterprise platforms like Hyperledger Fabric or Quorum.