Moscow has the highest percentage of CEOs or founders of ICO-seeking projects working from the Russian capital, claims international technology investment company Atomico.

In figures acquired in 2017, Atomico cited Russia at the top of a list of major crypto-active locations around the globe, followed by Silicon Valley, New York, and London. No Asian capitals appeared in the statistics which were posted on news website Quartz earlier this week.

Quartz writer John Detrixhe claims that Russia’s programmers leave a significant footprint in the world of cryptocurrency, particularly in ICO markets. He suggests that Russian accents are always a feature of ICO pitch competitions, although when it comes to actually raising funds, the US, Singapore, Switzerland, and the UK top the charts. Germany, the UK, and France each have more professional developers than Russia, according to Atomico. The Netherlands has many more developers on a per-capita basis.

Tech professionals, according to Detrixhe, are quick to point out that Russia is rich in programming skills and cryptography, a legacy of the old Soviet Union’s focus on science. The USSR still ranks second, behind China, in International Mathematical Olympiad wins, even though it sent its last team in 1991.

Crypto innovation is coming out of Russia because it has some of the best intellectual capital in the world, said Oliver Hughes, chairman of Tinkoff Bank, a digital lender based in Moscow. Even Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank, behaves like a fintech firm, according to him. Sberbank reportedly has more than 11,000 developers, which is more than all the employees at Snap, Square, and Twitter combined.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, a plethora of scientists became available and startups were an ideal home for some of these, and those with any knowledge of digital systems were ideally placed in the newly computerized Russia.

Russians today have become cryptocurrency savvy, and even Vladimir Putin is being advised to break new ground and embrace a technology which could indeed prove be a useful panacea to the ongoing US and European sanctions.

Quartz claims that there are concerns in Russia that Moscow is trying to influence the blockchain and cryptography standards in a way that allows the state to undermine it. Putin met with Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin last year, and since then the Russian government has started to take the possibility of a central bank digital currency a little more seriously, despite a crackdown on private sector use.

If cryptocurrency is adopted in Russia by the central bank, it remains to be seen if it simply becomes a feature of overseas trade, utilized for sanction busting by the Kremlin, or made available to all. If it’s the latter, clearly, if these statistics are correct, Moscow has the technical capacity and know-how to make its domestic crypto space a success.

 

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