President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, held a discussion this week with major leaders in the country’s financial sector to seemingly reverse course on where Russia stands on cryptocurrency.
Just yesterday, the Russian Central Bank First Deputy Governor Sergei Shvetsov called cryptocurrencies “dubious” and vowed to support efforts to block access to external websites that offer cryptocurrency brokering services in the country. With this, it seemed that Russia was shifting gears away from previous moves to legitimize blockchain technologies, the platform on which cryptocurrencies exist.
In the meeting attended by Presidential Aide Andrei Belousov, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina, Central Bank Deputy Governor Olga Skorobogatova and QIWI (a Russian payment services provider) CEO Sergei Solonin, President Putin seemed to voice support for cryptocurrency (or at least the exploration of it. Putin said: “Modern technology in the banking sphere certainly opens up new opportunities for organisations and citizens, making business activity and everyday life more convenient.”
The cryptocurrency world has been on a roller coaster as of late. Countries like South Korea and China have announced major bans which have, in turn, severely disrupted the market. Even so, financial experts are still predicting major gains, especially for the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
President Putin does acknowledge the unrestricted nature of cryptocurrency and the nefarious dealings it could allow. “First and foremost, this is an opportunity for laundering illegal gains, tax evasion and even financing of terrorism, not to mention the proliferation scams to which ordinary people can fall victim,” he told the group.
He goes on to say that regulation is the way forward, not outright bans. “We need – based on international experience – to build a regulatory environment that will make it possible to codify relations in this sphere, reliably protect the interests of citizens, businesses and the state and provide legal guarantees for using innovative financial instruments.”
The future of cryptocurrency in Russia and in the rest of the world is unclear. Governments and major financial institutions are just beginning to navigate how to best use and implement the necessary systems. Still, as Putin states “…it is important not to create unnecessary barriers…” Researchers from the Bank of Finland don’t even think Bitcoin can, or should, be regulated.
Whatever ends up happening to crypto on a global scale, there is no doubt of the revolutionary impact it is already having on the world.
Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.