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HSE Hosted a Round Table Discussion of the Role of Financial Technologies in Development of the Financial Sector

On 13 December, the Higher School of Economics jointly with the Bank of Russia hosted a round table discussion “Financial technologies and the future of the banking sector”. Vadim Kalukhov, director of the RF Central Bank’s Financial Technologies, Projects, and Process Organisation Department, made a presentation on major relevant trends and the Bank of Russia’s key projects.

Vadim Kalukhov spoke about the ongoing project on developing remote identification mechanisms, to provide financial services through the Unified Identification and Authentication System initiated by the Bank of Russia and being implemented jointly with the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media and the Federal Service for Financial Monitoring. He also presented the work on researching distributed registry technologies, including development of a Masterchain prototype – a blockchain-based basic network for sharing and storing financial information designed with participation of the country’s leading technology companies and banks.

“Until recently, financial technologies were given undeservedly little attention in S&T development studies”, stressed Alexander Sokolov, director of the Foresight Centre of the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge.

During the discussion participants raised a wide range of issues related with technological development of the financial sector, including specifically Russian aspects.

Alexey Arkhipov, Cryptotechnologies Development Director at QIWI Group, noted a growing trend towards further personalisation of banking services. He also spoke about the need for market players to join forces in the scope of existing and newly emerging consortia to develop, test, and apply financial technologies, including distributed registries.

Alexey Blagirev, Innovations Director at the Discovery Bank, spoke about specific features of managing and implementing innovation projects in the financial technologies field. He stressed the problems with designing a long-term development strategy for a bank in a situation of increasingly rapid technological progress.

Dmitry Khalin, Technology Policy Department director at Microsoft, noted that ongoing global digital transformation was changing business management models in all segments of the economy. E.g. emergence of cloud and other technologies has already resulted in fundamental changes occurring in the banking sector, with IT companies and banks rapidly moving closer to each other.

Alexey Chubar, adviser to the chairman of the board at VTB bank, summarised the trends transforming the banking system and noted a positive role financial technologies play in cost-cutting. He also noted the Bank of Russia’s contribution to promoting development of financial technologies in the country.

Dmitry Bulychkov, projects director at Sberbank’s Technological Innovations Centre, spoke about development and adaptation of distributed registry technologies at the biggest Russian bank. Specifically, he noted the project’s success, despite a number of problems encountered by the developers.

Anton Arnautov, editor in chief of the Bankir.ru, stressed that promoting development of start-up companies in Russia requires joint efforts by market players and the regulator. In his opinion, start-ups could also be successfully established on the basis of leading Russian universities.

During the questions and answers session moderated by Yury Dranev, deputy head of the Quantitative Modelling Unit of the HSE ISSEK Foresight Centre, participants of the round table discussion touched upon such topics as development of financial literacy in the course of adapting financial technologies; financial technologies’ effect on the banking sector’s growth prospects; increasingly severe problems with cybersecurity; financial regulation, etc. The issue of changing personnel structure and competency requirements due to transformation of banks and proliferation of artificial intelligence and robotics technologies commanded particular interest.

At the end it was proposed to meet with the Bank of Russia representatives again in the next year at HSE, to discuss the major financial technologies-related issues identified during the round table in more detail.