Raiffeisen Bank International is the second largest bank in Austria. She is currently setting up a euro stablecoin as a test, which some employees can use to pay in the cafeteria. Even if the bank has not yet given a specific date when it will bring the stablecoin to its 16.7 million customers, it is a player in a completely new class of the stablecoins business.
When you hear “Raiffeisen” today, you often think of something dusty. A bank in a village with offices from the 1970s. The name of a small street, a farm shop from a time when there were no hardware stores, a black and white picture by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen from the 19th century.
In financial history, however, Raiffeisen was an innovator, and the cooperative banks he founded are an indispensable part of the economic history of Germany and Austria. In line with this, the Austrian Raiffeisenbank is already resolutely dedicated to the topic of blockchain and stablecoins, while the German Bankers Association is still busy gathering all the objections : Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), which is Austria’s second largest bank and the leading commercial and investment bank , is experimenting with his own euro stablecoin. With total assets of 164 billion euros and 16.7 million customers, RBI could provide the impetus for cryptocurrencies to arrive in the mainstream as stable coins.
The “ Raiffeisen Euro-backed Stable Token ”, REST for short, is currently still an in-house “exercise in tokenization”. Its aim is to make the technology tangible for the employees and to generate knowledge. How can you scale a stablecoin? How is the transition between euro and stablecoin going? The project aims to clarify such questions.
In addition to the RBI team, the in-house canteen, where you can pay with the stablecoin, also takes part in the project. HotelData serves as the hardware provider, the blockchain on which the stablecoin itself runs is from the Viennese service provider ObsNetwork . Obs has set up its own blockchain, which is specially made for companies that want to issue tokens.
This blockchain is a fork of the Waves platform, which is based on NXT and Scorex. ObsNetwork has also implemented Bitcoin-NG on it, an architecture that Cornell researcher Emin Gün Sirer presented five years ago and which is intended to improve the speed and scalability of the blockchain. With this program, Obs prides itself on offering a significantly faster and more scalable blockchain than the usual solutions used for tokens.
Together with Obs and the startup Blockstruct, RBI has also developed a wallet for in-house tests. You should use this to pay with a QR code in the canteen, upload the tokens to a wallet, exchange them for (ordinary) euros, send money and create an activity report.
As gratifying as it is that RBI is leading the way with this innovation, one wonders why banks so often believe they need to reinvent the technology. When banks set up computers, they didn’t even try to develop their own computer and operating system. Why do they seem to feel the need to get into the software development business at blockchains?
In contrast to many other models, ObsNetwork is open source, permission-free and transparently builds on already known technologies. It might not be the worst choice to issue a stablecoin. On the other hand, it is a blockchain that has not been tested in practice and does not have any network effects, such as availability in wallets, connection to exchanges or DeFi apps.
Instead of wanting to establish a new blockchain with the new stablecoin, the RBI would possibly do itself a bigger favor if they left it with their own stablecoin and, for example, based on the model of Tether, used different blockchains to dock with the existing structures. So the stablecoin could work immediately with many wallets, make it to DeFi apps and so on. But what is not, can still become …