Russia has a very interesting relationship with cryptocurrency. We have seen so many conflicting reports over the past few months, it almost becomes impossible to keep tabs on things. The head of Russia’s Sberbank now claims Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are never going away. It’s a bold statement, although it is evident there is a lot of truth to this train of thought.
Russia’s Complicated Relationship With Cryptocurrency
There have been conflicting reports regarding the future of cryptocurrency in Russia. More specifically, we have heard rumors of Bitcoin’s legalization, a ban on all cryptocurrency activity, and even jail time for miners. So far, none of these claims have come true, which is anything but surprising. There is still a lot of work to be done among Russian regulators before we can finally start to think about Bitcoin’s future in the country.
Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, has always kept an open mind toward Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. More specifically, it has been pro-Bitcoin so far, without making any major decisions on the cryptocurrency front. It is an interesting approach, but considering that this bank is not state-owned, it is free to do its own thing to a certain extent. There is still a lot of uncertainty in this regard.
What is somewhat surprising is the recent statement made by Sberbank’s Herman Gref. More specifically, the head of Sberbank is confident cryptocurrencies will not go away anytime soon. That in itself is a rather heartening endorsement coming from a banker, as it shows officials are at least willing to give these currencies the benefit of the doubt. Russia isn’t exactly known to have a laissez-faire approach when it comes to financial instruments not controlled by the government or issued by the central bank.
According to Gref, virtual currencies are a “natural outcome” of blockchain technology. While some entities may be in favor of banning them altogether, said Gref, the better option would be to welcome them with open arms. “Cryptocurrencies are a fact of our life,” Gref commented during a recent meeting. Cryptocurrencies are currently on a lot of people’s minds, although there is still a high degree of wariness. That isn’t surprising by any means, though, as this is still a highly unregulated market right now.
In most cases, governments will understandably try to protect their financial infrastructures first and foremost. However, there will be a place for cryptocurrency in the Russian economy in one way or another. Gref feels both the private sector and government will pave the way for Bitcoin and altcoins to thrive in the long run. It will take a lot of time for that to actually happen, though, as there is still a lot of work to be done before a major mind shift occurs.
It will be interesting to see how things play out in Russia over the next few months. Mind you, the Central Bank of Russia is still in favor of stricter regulation of cryptocurrencies. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding Russia’s financial future, but that doesn’t mean cryptocurrencies will go away or be deemed illegal by the Kremlin.