(Reuters) - Russia's largest lender Sberbank plans to launch a decentralised finance (DeFi) platform within the next few months, the Interfax news agency reported.
Sberbank says it wants to make the Russian decentralised finance system the best in the world, and is currently beta testing its own platform.
Decentralised finance platforms allow users to perform typical banking transactions, such as lending, saving and investing, based on distributed ledger, or blockchain, technology.
Advocates say it could reduce banking costs and eventually even replace traditional banks, while critics say the system has few real-world uses and suffers the same drawbacks as the crypto world, such as lack of regulation and vulnerability to fraud and money laundering.
Traditional financial institutions are looking at how to get into the space and integrate DeFi technology with their existing regulated operations.
Sberbank will launch open testing in March of its platform and aims to start commercial operations by the end of April, the Interfax news agency quoted Konstantin Klimenko, head of products at Sberbank's blockchain laboratory, as saying.
Sberbank's DeFi platform will be based on the Ethereum blockchain, the second-largest crypto currency by market capitalisation after bitcoin, Klimenko said on Friday.
(Reporting by Reuters, Editing by Louise Heavens)