by Nuno Menezes
Russia’s largest online retailer, Ulmart, revealed on May 10 it going to start accepting bitcoin. Ulmart is also Russia's largest privately held Internet Company specialising in e-commerce, and announced the adoption of bitcoin on May 10, planning to start accepting it as a form of payment from 1 September, 2017.
Even though Russia has had an unfriendly attitude toward Bitcoin in the past, the country now seems to be warming to cryptocurrency, with a report in April suggesting the legalization of this new asset class in 2018.
The Chief International Officer of Ulmart, Brian Kean stated:
“We welcome the willingness that the Russian government has demonstrated with regards to the review of the bitcoin technology and look forward to cooperating with it in this area. Ulmart believes such initiatives as bitcoin can be part of the efforts to develop 'smart' economy and cities and will aim to play a major role in this process."
The company states that its decision was motivated by a belief that as technology continues to evolve, we are watching the blockchain and Bitcoin become part of the new financial technology culture from which the company does not want to be left out.
Currently, Ulmart market volume is close to 150,000 SKU in its "first-party seller" format. Recently the company launched a marketplace which has been a way for the company to slowly start building out its online inventory. The company expects that an additional one million items could be on offer from its marketplace users by year-end, and many of these will be positioned to be purchased with bitcoin.
Dmitry Kostygin, the Chairman and majority shareholder of Ulmart stated:
“Ulmart started closely monitoring the market and regulatory environment for the use of crypto-currency in Russia as early as March 2014. As the blockchain technology is coming into our operations to fight counterfeit items, we see that the mystery that existed around the bitcoin three years ago has significantly receded.”
The company might consider targeting high-priced products to be purchased with bitcoin. Products like apartments, art pieces, used cars and so on could be on that list. Even so, the company still has not presented a list of products positioned to be purchased with bitcoin via the marketplace.
"Life is ever in flux. The bitcoin was created to offer security against fluctuations in hard currency. As the technology behind the crypto-currency slips unseen into our everyday lives via the Internet of Things, it has become one of those 'why not' moments. Tomorrow is today in the world of blockchain and as a leader, Ulmart strives to be ahead of the market.”
Although we have seen a series of controversial attitudes from the Russian government toward Bitcoin in the past, the country’s attitude and interest nowadays seem to be geared toward the growing use of the blockchain technology. This could be great news for the Russian Bitcoin community and the legal validation of bitcoin will likely lead to further merchant adoption, as in Japan.