This week,

  1. Experts discuss cryptocurrencies;
  2. Kazakhstan has voiced the national digital priorities;
  3. New e-commerce regulation in Kyrgyzstan;
  4. E-Government updates in Eurasia;
  5. Blockchain will be used in Russian health care;
  6. Virtual mobile operators enter the region.

1. What’s Wrong with the Cryptocurrencies?

Digital Economy | Russia

The potential use of cryptocurrencies became one of the main topics discussed by experts last week. We interviewed Alexander Abramov, a professor at the Faculty of Economics at the Higher School of Economics (Russia) about the potential of cryptocurrencies in Russia and in the world. In his opinion, in the foreseeable future, crypto-currencies can not become an alternative to classical money in the world financial system. If technical difficulties are easy to overcome, it still requires full integration of the budget and banking policies of the participating countries. Most states of the world today are not ready to replace national currencies with bitcoins or other specially developed cryptocurrencies.

According to Google, the number of requests for cryptocurrencies increased 3.5 times in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period last year. We analyzed the level of interest of private and state sectors in the use of digital money in Russia. Crypto-currencies are perceived mainly as an object of high-risk investments.

The interest of the public sector is illustrated by the statement by German Klimenko, Internet Development Adviser to the President of Russia. He announced the establishment of the Association of the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency (RABIK), which will be engaged in creating an ecosystem and regulating this segment of the economy. The new structure will deal with the promotion and implementation of technologies using cryptocurrencies and the process of their legalization in public and private structures. In RABIK there will be three committees – on blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and mining.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Communications Nikolai Nikiforov believes that Russia should create a national digital currency, based on domestic cryptography. He said that the Ministry has already developed and will submit to the government some relevant requirements concerning the circulation of cryptocurrency in the Russian Federation.

Earlier, the First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Head of the Sberbank German Gref supported the idea of the use of cryptocurrencies. At the same time, representatives of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) and the Central Bank are in favor of a more cautious approach. They emphasize the need to better study everything prior to any regulatory changes.

DR Comments: Earlier we reported that Estonia was the first country in the world to issue a national crypto currency. At the same time, the Financial Security Council of Ukraine will soon determine the legal status of Bitcoin.

2. Digitalization and Cybersecurity are on the 8th Place in the List of Priorities of Kazakhstan.

Digital Economy | Information Security | Kazakhstan

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev announced the strategic tasks that the government faces at the opening of the third session of the Parliament. Among the nine most important strategic tasks, the eighth place is the issues of digitalization and ensuring cybersecurity of the country.

The President mentioned the serious problem of the growth of illegal content on the Internet, which has increased 40 times within the last three years. That is why Kazakhstan needs a reliable Cybershield of Kazakhstan. Special attention is required by the defense and aerospace industry. For the development of the industry, a corresponding Ministry has been created. The bill, which will fully enable the work of the Ministry, will be submitted to Parliament this year.

DR Comments: The concept of cybersecurity of the country entitled “Cybershield of Kazakhstan” was published in March 2017, and the state program “Digital Kazakhstan” will be presented to the public on September 13, 2017. The program consists of four main dimensions: infrastructure development, improvement of human capital, digitalization of economy, and improvement of the e-governance systems and public services.

3. What Is Behind the Initiative of the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan on E-Payments?

Digital Economy | Kyrgyzstan

The National Bank of Kyrgyzstan (NBKR) proposed a new regulation on e-payments. If these amendments to the resolution “On Approval of the Regulation “On Electronic Money in the Kyrgyz Republic” dated March 30, 2016, are adopted, citizens of Kyrgyzstan will be able to make e-payments only using the electronic purses.

According to the official explanation of the National Bank, the reason for the adoption of this amendment was the analysis of possible risks of insufficient financial security of electronic money, their uncontrolled turnover, direct debiting of funds from users’ accounts and so on. Thus, the main reason is to protect the interests of the customers and control over financial flows.

At the same time, Telecom representatives expressed concerns about this justification of the amendments. The mobile operators recently decided to offer Kyrgyz customers a new service to use the phone balance as a payment tool for goods and services. According to experts, representatives of the banking sector believe that mobile operators may “steal” their clients because the number of smartphones in Kyrgyzstan is several times greater than the number of bank cards. Moreover, such a confrontation contradicts the national program of Taza Coom, as Telecoms believe.

DR Comments: At the moment, the situation looks like that the regular users are those whose interests are ignored.

4. The E-Gov News Review in Georgia, Belarus, and Uzbekistan.

E-Governance | Georgia | Belarus | Uzbekistan

The Parliament of Georgia became paperless. MP’s received the agenda of the forthcoming plenary session on their digital devices. According to Vice Speaker Tamara Chugoshvili, the electronic document management will reduce paper consumption by 60% and save about USD $24.300 annually.

The Government of Belarus plans to cooperate with Korean companies Kiny & Partners, KTNET, and Ahnlab to develop national e-government projects. Programs to develop the national system of paperless trade, electronic archives, enhance competencies in the field of information security have already been deployed this year on the basis of the Belarusian-Korean Center for Cooperation in the field of Information Technology.

Experts of the e-Government Leadership Centre at the National University of Singapore will consult the Ministry of Finance of Uzbekistan on the application of IT in public services. Singaporean colleagues will help Uzbekistan in such issues as phased informatization and automation of healthcare, education, social protection, employment, as well as in public, transportation, and communication services.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan reported that a competitive selection of notaries will be broadcast on the Internet in order to increase the transparency of the competition and the public’s attention.

5. Electronic Medical Cards Will Be Managed with the Help of Blockchain.

Digital Economy | Russia

The Minister of Health of Russia Veronika Skvortsova said that the system of electronic medical cards will be organized on the blockchain platform. According to the Minister, the patient will be able to determine with whom to share medical information and to choose the medical organization and the attending physician.

In early August 2017, Vnesheconombank invited Skvortsova to the working group responsible for the development of pilot projects based on the “blocky” technology, which can become the basis for creating more efficient systems for documentation storing and processing, as well as assessing the effectiveness of medical institutions and individual doctors.

DR Comments: Earlier we informed that the law “On Telemedicine” in Russia will come into force on January 1, 2018, and that e-health issues are included in the list of key spheres of the “Digital Economy” program.

6. A Virtual Mobile Operator Emerged in Armenia.

Digital Access | Armenia

A new actor appeared on the telecommunication market of Armenia. The Armenian company Ucom in cooperation with the Russian company “Multiregional TransitTelecom” (MTT) established a virtual mobile operator Aiva Mobile. The company plans to attract 50,000 subscribers in the first year.

Armenia is the fourth country where Aiva Mobile operates. In August 2014, in partnership with Babilon Mobile, the operator began its services in Tajikistan. In December 2015, Aiva Mobile, together with DNA Oy, was launched in Finland, and in February 2016 Aiva Mobile launched in Uzbekistan in partnership with UCell. According to the press service of MTT, the company has more than 100 thousand users in these three countries combined.

DR Comments: Earlier we informed about the launch of the other virtual mobile operator LycaMobile in the Ukrainian market.

This digest is also available in Russian