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Russia’s Finance Minister Wants Crypto Legalized but Regulated

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Russia’s Finance Minister Wants Crypto Legalized but Regulated

Reports from Russia indicate that the country’s finance minister, Anton Siluanov, has recapitulated his stance on the legalization of crypto in the country. According to the Russian daily Kommersant, Siluanov wrote a letter to Mikhail Mishustin, Russia’s Prime Minister, earlier in the week, reiterating his belief that cryptocurrencies and crypto-assets should be regulated rather than banned. 

Bank of Russia Pours Cold Water on Crypto

In the letter, Siluanov proposed that banks with universal licenses be allowed to provide crypto exchange services to Russians. The Minister of Finance also indicated a need to introduce licensing rules for other market participants and the criminalization of entities operating without a license.

Further, Siluanov also wants there to be mandatory use of the Transparent Blockchain system and for Rosfinmonitoring, the state’s anti-money laundering agency, to be given access to operational information of crypto companies. The Transparent Blockchain is an AI-based blockchain analysis system used by Rosfinmonitoring to identify crypto service providers and track crypto transactions.

However, the gist of Siluanov’s letter is in sharp contrast to a report released by the Bank of Russia calling for a complete ban on digital currency use in the country. 

Debating on the Legalization of Cryptocurrencies

According to Kommersant, a meeting was held in late January between Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Grigorenko and representatives from the Bank of Russia, the Ministry of Finance, the FSB, and the Prosecutor General’s Office to discuss the future of cryptocurrencies and crypto assets in Russia.

After the meeting, the Bank of Russia released a report describing cryptocurrencies as a threat to Russia’s economic stability and suggested banning their trading and mining on Russian soil. The report further called for the punishment of individuals or entities caught violating an already existing ban on the use of virtual currency for payments. 

According to a Bloomberg report, the Governor of the Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina, took the stance against crypto after intense lobbying from the FSB, the country’s most powerful security agency. The FSB believes that Russia’s political opposition members may use crypto to subvert the government.

Regulation is Enough to Protect the People

However, the Minister of Finance is confident that regulation would be sufficient to protect Russians from any predatory actions stemming from crypto use. Siluanov believes that legalizing crypto ownership under strict control of the state will allow owners of crypto in the country to use them as investment assets and will open up a new area of taxation for the government. 

According to the minister, there are more than 12 million crypto wallets in Russia, with a combined value conservatively estimated at over 2 trillion rubles. Bloomberg estimates that the true value of crypto in Russian hands is well over 16.5 trillion rubles ($216 billion). The minister is concerned that a fairly significant percentage of Russians have their savings tied up in crypto, and any laws outlawing it could be detrimental to the economy.

It is not all disagreement between Siluanov and Nabiullina. They both agree that cryptocurrency cannot become legal tender in the Russian Federation. They also agree on the need to regulate crypto mining, which they believe, if done right, has the potential to bring in an extra 180 billion rubles into the country’s coffers through licensing fees and taxation.