Not a day goes by, it seems, without an update from the Russian government about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Legislators in this particular country have historically had issues getting on the same page when talking about cryptocurrencies. In the latest update, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov claims that cryptocurrency will be regulated by the end of 2017.
Yet Another Plot Twist Involving Russia
Anyone who has kept a close eye on the state of Bitcoin in Russia will have noticed there is no unified message whatsoever. Some officials have claimed Bitcoin will not be legalized or recognized in the country, whereas others have stated it is only a matter of time until some legislation is put in place. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov recently echoed the latter sentiment, stating that the Russian government will have cryptocurrency regulation in place by the end of 2017.
That is a rather ambitious deadline. As of right now, no one has any idea as to how cryptocurrencies may be regulated in Russia moving forward. There is some opposition from other government officials, which could hint that the rules put in place may not be overly kind toward startups and service providers. Then again, the largest Russian online payment processor, WebMoney, began accepting Bitcoin payments some time ago, which indicates that a positive future is certainly possible.
Siluanov provided some intriguing details as to what the Russian government has planned exactly. The main focus is evidently on overseeing the domestic cryptocurrency market. Banning cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin would make absolutely no sense for the government. Bitcoin and other currencies drive financial innovation like no other concept has ever done before. Ignoring the trend is one thing, but there is no way to ban something that is not centralized in the first place.
That does not mean it would be impossible to regulate Bitcoin activity in Russia, though. The most likely course of action would be to introduce some changes to how local exchanges and service providers operate, similar to how things are handled in other countries. It is now up to Russia’s Finance Ministry to draft a bill that creates a viable ecosystem for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Russia. Speculation is running wild as to what we can expect exactly.
Russia has recently been making a lot of waves in the realm of cryptocurrency. Not only has that government established a working group on cryptocurrency regulation, but it also plans to invest in a major mining operation. It will be interesting to see how the latter venture plays out, though, as mining cryptocurrency has been subject to substantial scrutiny in Russia over the past few months. With conflicting reports in this regard as well, it is unclear what the future holds for cryptocurrency miners.
This somewhat positive news does not mean Russian officials are ignoring the risks associated with cryptocurrency. There is still the potential for fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion. However, with regulation finally in place by the end of 2017 – or possibly later – interesting things await cryptocurrency in Russia. We can only hope the coming regulation will not hinder innovation in any way, although that remains to be determined.