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Russian Finance Ministry Calls On Crypto for International Settlements

2 mins
Updated by Andrew Rossow
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In Brief

  • Russian Finance Ministry submits a new draft of a bill, calling for crypto to be used in foreign trade payments.
  • The Central Bank and Finance Ministry have chosen divergent responses to regulating crypto in the country.
  • The bill was first introduced in February.
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The Russian Ministry of Finance submitted a new draft of a bill that calls for using crypto for international settlements payments.

The bill, “On Digital Currencies,” was introduced in February, which would remedy previous drafts seeking to ban crypto as a form of payment, rather than exploring its merits as an investment vehicle.

The new bill considers proposals made by the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Digital Development, the Federal Tax Service, and the Center for National Projects of the Analytical Center. The Finance Ministry will discuss the new bill with the United Russia party.

Limited scope for foreign trade

A central bank representative noted that while it’s theoretically possible to use cryptocurrencies for foreign trade, such applications are limited in their scope. He said that cryptocurrencies “serve much fewer payments than traditional payment systems,” and international regulators can detect large transactions and stop them.

In February, the Central Bank proposed a ban on cryptocurrencies, covering cryptocurrency mining, circulation, and possession of crypto, imposing a one billion rubles fine on anyone in contravention of these laws.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Binance has prevented the deposit and trading of cryptocurrencies of Russians with assets over $10,000 (EUR 10,000). Russia currently holds $630 billion in reserves, with half of those reserves being held abroad in commercial banks and foreign central banks.

The Bank of Russia’s bill would prevent banks from engaging in crypto services and owning cryptocurrency.

Another attempt to evade sanctions?

Maxim Bashkatove, the head of the Legal Development Direction at the Center for Strategic Research, said that the proposal to use cryptocurrencies as a settlement vehicle for foreign transactions, has been considered for some time.

Bashkatove emphasized that using cryptocurrency in this way should not be misinterpreted as Russia avoiding sanctions but rather as an alternative to international banking protocol SWIFT and payment processors MasterCard and Visa, all of which have pulled out of Russia.

He said that this application of cryptocurrencies aligns with one of cryptocurrency’s original tenets, which is removing intermediaries from transactions.

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...
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