Russian Finance and Central Bank Minister Aleksey Moiseev said in a TV interview conducted by Russia24 that cryptocurrencies are needed to make cross-border payments.
On TV, Moiseev reportedly stated:
“It is impossible to do without cross-border settlements in cryptocurrency.”
Russia prioritizing crypto regulation
For this reason, crypto regulation should be a priority, so that these kinds of payments are made possible, which in theory are expected to start from 2023 in Russia:
“As for the regulation of the cryptocurrency market, the difference in approaches has remained. But I can say that the Central Bank has also rethought [the approach], taking into account the fact that the situation has changed, and we are rethinking it. Because the infrastructure that we plan to create is too rigid for the use of cryptocurrencies in cross-border settlements, which, of course, we must first of all legalize somehow.”
Russia: centralized wallets controlled by the Bank
This is necessary so that everyone owns cryptocurrency wallets that are nevertheless controlled to prevent money laundering and payments for unauthorized assets. Currently, in fact, this is possible using wallets not authorized by the Russian Federation.
According to Moiseev, to solve this problem wallets should be supervised by the Central Bank:
“Now people open crypto wallets outside the Russian Federation. It is necessary that this can be done in Russia, that this is done by entities supervised by the Central Bank, which are required to comply with the requirements of anti-money laundering legislation, and first of all, of course, to know their client.”
In essence, for Moiseev, cryptocurrencies are useful for having fast, low-cost payments, but the whole thing must still be centralized and highly controlled. The notion of decentralization and privacy behind cryptocurrencies, which are now seen in Russia as a kind of faster, more agile alternative to fiat currencies, is therefore missing.
Stablecoins in Russia and the digital ruble
In fact, the cryptocurrencies Moiseev is referring to would certainly not be Bitcoin or Ethereum, but stablecoins, and in particular through the creation of platforms for cross-border stablecoin settlements.
For the time being, it has not been specified which stablecoin is intended to be used, but it will probably be something created ad hoc, perhaps anchored to the local currency, namely the ruble.
And indeed, for months already, the Central Bank of Russia has been working on a new digital ruble, which would now be in the final stages of testing before being put on the market.
Crypto in Russia amid a thousand contradictions
In July, a law had passed that basically banned cryptocurrency payments in the country, although soon afterwards the Russian Central Bank opened up the possibility of making cryptocurrency mining legal in the country.
Last March, just weeks after the outbreak of the conflict with Ukraine, the head of the Duma’s Energy Committee, Pavel Zavalny, had instead opened up to the possibility of Russia accepting oil and gas supply payments in cryptocurrencies.