Russia looks at legalising crypto for cross-border payments

Deputy finance minister Moiseev admits changing geopolitical landscape has shifted attitudes to cryptocurrencies

Alexei Moiseev                                 
Alexei Moiseev: finance ministry and central bank agree new framework impossible without cross-border settlements in cryptocurrency – Photo:Shutterstock

Russia’s central bank could legalise cryptocurrencies for the use in cross-border settlements,despite vociferously opposed the electronic medium of exchange for more than a decade. 

Crypto legalisation may be imminent

According to Russia’s state news agency, Tass, the country’s deputy finance minister, Alexei Moiseev, said in an interview with Russia-24 that, while a difference in approach between the finance ministry and the country’s central bank continues, the Bank of Russia has taken “into account the fact that the situation has changed, and we are rethinking.”

Moiseev said that currently “the infrastructure we plan to create is too rigid to use cryptocurrencies in cross-border calculations, which, of course, must first of all be legalised somehow, on the one hand, to enable people to do this, on the other hand, to put it under control so that there is no laundering, payment for drugs and so on.”

He said that both the ministry and the bank had agreed that in the current context a new framework “is impossible to do without cross-border settlements in cryptocurrency.”

His comments come a week after the Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin, hailed digital assets, saying: “This is a safe alternative for all parties that can guarantee uninterrupted payment for the supply of goods from abroad and for export.”

Mishustin called for “joint efforts of the government and the Bank of Russia” to develop “effective tools that meet the challenges of the new time.”

Ukraine war changes attitudes

The war in Ukraine has significantly affected attitudes towards cryptocurrencies within Russian state institutions. Although the finance ministry has consistently sought to foster crypto innovation, the central bank has been less enthusiastic. At the start of the year it even suggested a complete ban on all cryptocurrency trading, mining and business activity. 

With digital assets now seen as a potential means through which Russia can skirt some of the substantial sanctions levelled against it by Western nations, the bank has struck a more emollient tone. 

If it pursued this path, Russia would be following in the footsteps of Iran, which last week officially approved the use of cryptocurrency for imports in order to circumvent US sanctions. 

Later in the interview, Moiseev said: “Now people are opening crypto wallets outside the Russian Federation. It is necessary that this can be done in Russia, so that it is done by the subjects supervised by the central bank, which is obliged to comply with the requirements of anti-laundering legislation, and first of all, of course, to know their client.”

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