In Russia, plans to use cryptocurrencies for international trade appear to be taking shape. According to sources, a trade platform is being worked on and Prime Minister Mishustin has ordered a policy to be drawn up by the end of the year. Despite previous indications, it is unclear whether Bitcoin is part of the plans.
Russia’s Central Bank and Ministry of Finance have reportedly decided to accept cryptocurrencies as a means of payment for international trade.
Alexey Moiseev, the finance minister, announced that the Russian government is exploring all options to avoid imposed sanctions and avoid the use of dollars and euros, the TASS news agency reported.
Russia and Bitcoin
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US and EU have imposed various economic sanctions. Since March this year, the EU has closed the vast majority of Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or the SWIFT payment network.
As a result, payments cannot be made to and from banks within this system. For that reason, Russia would look for alternative ways of conducting international trade and international bank transfers.
The possibility of using bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies has previously been ‘actively discussed’ at a high level. In March, the chairman of the energy committee Pavel Zavalny indicated that “friendly countries” could also pay for Russian energy with bitcoins. For a while, it seemed that Russia liked Bitcoin.
Bitcoin or not?
However, new developments seem to indicate that Bitcoin may not be part or only a small part of the plans.
The government-controlled news agency TASS reported that the central bank and the government recently agreed that, under the current circumstances, it is “impossible” to continue international trade without cryptocurrency payments. However, no cryptocurrency is mentioned by name. There is talk of a ‘crypto wallet’ of Russian providers, which is under the supervision of the central bank.
Another news release from TASS reports that the Ministry of Finance has begun the development of a payment platform that will make it possible to make payments using “mutually acceptable tokenized instruments.” The post mentions stablecoins as an example. These are cryptocurrencies whose value is linked to the price of another asset, such as the euro, dollar or gold.
Although Bitcoin is considered to be one of the cryptocurrencies, it has not been written about in recent news articles. There is therefore a chance that the Russian government’s efforts will primarily focus on creating its own system and using its own tokens instead of an existing cryptocurrency like bitcoin.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has now officially instructed various government agencies to reach an agreement on the regulation of cryptocurrencies.
This will probably provide a legal framework in relation to the new plans, but also clarify what role, if any, Bitcoin can play. A first draft of the new rules must be ready by 19 December at the latest.
Despite the Russian state’s interest in using cryptocurrencies for international payments, they are less enthusiastic about its potential use by Russian citizens. In March, Putin signed a law banning local payments in Russia using cryptocurrencies. Russian citizens are therefore not allowed to pay for goods and services with bitcoin.
The Iranian government recently passed regulations on the use of bitcoin for imports.