Russia is allegedly preparing a ban on the use of cryptocurrencies to pay for goods and services.
A report from Izvestia on Nov. 29 cites several sources allegedly familiar with ongoing discussions at the country’s central bank, financial regulator and Ministry of Finance in support of a ban.
Legal measures not yet officially confirmed
At present, cryptocurrencies can be used for e-commerce and many Russian freelancers, including programmers, designers and copywriters, agree to receive their salaries in Bitcoin (BTC) or Ether (ETH), Vladislav Antonov told Izvestia.
Antonov, an analyst at Alpari Information and Analytical Center, noted that while they are not officially permitted, cryptocurrencies are often used to purchase a range of goods and services; including tickets, computers and household appliances, renting an apartment, or booking a hotel.
If Izvestia’s sources are correct, Russian regulators think a ban is necessary to prevent cryptocurrencies from being used as payment, citing their concerns about crime.
The report refers to comments from Alexey Yakovlev, deputy head of the banking regulation department of the Ministry of Finance, who reportedly reaffirmed at a recent conference on crypto-economics, “We do not see any basis for cryptocurrencies to be used as a means of payment.”
The press department of the central bank has not officially confirmed the drafting of a formal bill, but emphasized that private cryptocurrencies cannot be equated with fiat currency and cannot be considered a legitimate way to pay for purchases:
“If a decision is made to ban cryptocurrencies as a means of payment at the level of legislation, we consider it appropriate to support this position.”
Law will foster a “gray market”
The report claims that the Russian crypto community is readying itself for a potential tightening of restrictions, with rumors allegedly circulating that criminal penalties could carry terms of 5–8 years.
Due to the difficulties of enforcement, some industry representatives reportedly believe the ban will be limited to a series of “demonstration cases” intended to dissuade the public from flouting the law.
Antonina Levashenko, head of the Russia-OECD Center for RANEPA, has warned that the bill could foster the development of a gray market, outside of regulators’ oversight.
As Cointelegraph recently reported, Russia is also thought to be attempting to establish legal statutes — set to come into law by 2021 — allowing the government to confiscate digital assets.