Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia, plans to install 4,914 blockchain-enabled ATMs. Part of the development requires that the ATMs must include a graphics card that can run blockchain operations.
Sberbank is one of Russia’s biggest employers and has more than 14,000 branches in the country alone. That doesn’t include their presence in 18 other countries across the world. Given this massive reach, it’s not surprising that they’d be the first to enact something like this.
A World First
These blockchain ATMs won’t be the first ones the world has ever seen. There are already more than 7,000 Bitcoin ATMs across the globe, the vast majority of which are in the U.S. However, Sberbank is still setting a world first with this blockchain ATM campaign.
Crypto companies, not traditional banks, run nearly all current Bitcoin ATMs. Sberbank isn’t just a bank, but a massive one at that, so this kind of project is unheard of. Another key difference is that Sberbank’s machines aren’t necessarily cryptocurrency ATMs, but ATMs with blockchain technology.
The Sberbank ATMs would be traditional machines in that they can deal with traditional currency. This instance will be the first time such an ATM would have blockchain capabilities. Though it’s not confirmed yet, these machines may also be able to mine cryptocurrency.
Possible Crypto Mining
Graphics cards aren’t necessary for most blockchain functions, but they are for crypto mining. Sberbank’s notice didn’t mention mining, but the inclusion of the extra processors might suggest that these ATMs will be able to mine. If that’s the case, it would be another world first.
The document said that graphics cards are for image recognition and possible blockchain operations. The only likely use for a blockchain-ready processor in an ATM is crypto mining, but this could be a mistake. Sberbank may only use the graphics cards for image recognition.
If it turns out that this isn’t an error, it would be a landmark for both cryptocurrency and Russia itself. Mining capabilities could suggest that Sberbank or the Russian government plan to issue their own currency. That would be particularly unusual given Russia’s history with cryptocurrency.
Russia and Cryptocurrency
Earlier this year, a Russian legal proposal suggested a ban on cryptocurrency, though this hasn’t become law yet. The bill would prohibit any citizen or business from buying or using crypto. Anyone who already had crypto would have to declare it to the government and how they got it.
The Central Bank of Russia also banned crypto payments at all of its locations. This ban doesn’t carry any legal repercussions but does help delegitimize crypto in Russia. Given these examples of anti-crypto movements in Russia, it seems unlikely that Sberbank would issue crypto-mining ATMs.
Banking and the Blockchain
Until Sberbank releases further documentation or implements the ATMs, their full purpose will remain uncertain. Any statements about the use of the graphics cards are just speculation at this point. Regardless of what the processors do, these ATMs are a step toward the marriage of blockchain and banking.
Blockchain is becoming a more legitimate financial tool every day. As more institutions like Sberbank take advantage of it, more governments may consider using it, improving public safety and privacy. With this string of blockchain ATMs, Sberbank could be making history.
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