Kazakhstan wants to enter the cryptocurrency market – with its own fiat-backed digital asset.
The country's government-supported Astana International Finance Center (AIFC) said Tuesday it had signed a deal of cooperation with Maltese firm Exante.
In a press release, Exante, which calls itself a "next generation investment company," said it would work with the AIFC to develop the ex-Soviet nation's untapped cryptocurrency market.
"Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are entering the mainstream of today's economic reality," Kairat Kelimbetov, governor of the Astana International Finance Center, said in the press release Tuesday.
"Astana's leading financial regulators have already commenced their work and are laying the foundation for Kazakhstan's fintech-ecosystem. We believe that the AIFC can become an international hub for blockchain operations and the development of the digital assets market is our key priority in the near future."
Kazakhstan would follow in the footsteps of a number of countries and regulators to indicate interest in its own cryptocurrency.
In August, Estonia proposed its own state-backed digital asset, which would be called "estcoin". The small Eastern European nation said it was considering the launch of estcoin through an initial coin offering (ICO) — a crowdfunding method that has garnered much scrutiny in recent weeks.
And last month, Japan signaled the potential launch of its own digital currency, called J-Coin.
Kazakhstan's entry into the digital currency ecosystem would be underpinned by Exante's new blockchain platform, 'Stasis'.
Blockchains are digital ledgers that record cryptocurrency transactions on encrypted "blocks" across a distributed network of computers.
"The development of such a system will bridge the gap between the traditional asset market and the crypto-world," Anatoly Knyazev, co-founder of Exante, said. "We see keen interest from the market players, and we already have applications from other government-related financial institutions."
The technology is being experimented in a "closed mode" at present, and Exante didn't indicate a timeline for commercial launch.