Russian president Vladimir Putin has stated that use of Bitcoin “as some kind of unit in some account” is “possible” in a surprisingly supportive gesture towards the currency.
The remarks were made during a televised forum and constitute the first official utterances from Putin regarding digital currency, Russian news portal RIA Novosti reports.
Speaking about Bitcoin specifically, Putin said:
“[… ][A]s an accounting unit, these 'coins' or whatever are they called, they can be used, and their adoption becomes wider and wider. As some kind of unit in some account, probably, it's possible.”
He added reservations about the ultimate usefulness of Bitcoin as a currency, stating that “We do not reject anything, but there are serious, really fundamental issues related to its wider usage, at least, today.”
- Russian president Vladimir Putin
The situation regarding digital currency within Russian territory has taken a turbulent course over the past two years. From an initial plan to ban the use of Bitcoin outright, itself shelved several times, regional authorities have meanwhile taken steps to ban online resources providing information on cryptocurrency, also since widely overturned, as well as pressure related discussion groups.
With his latest comments, Putin appears to reverse this trend, with the Russian community slowly showing cause for optimism.
“Right now, it feels like a ‘thaw’ compared to last year,” BTCSec CEO, Ivan Tikhonov, told Cointelegraph. “Nevertheless, the Ministry of Finance is still supporting a proposed law to define virtual currency as money surrogates.”
Tikhonov nevertheless remained cagey about what the future ultimately holds for the freedom to use Bitcoin in Russia.
“Currently, it is impossible to predict what kind of future is in store for cryptocurrencies in Russia. It’s promising that the central bank started to study the possibilities offered by cryptocurrencies in greater detail while withholding from passing any more restrictive laws,” continued Tikhonov.
“If this continues, then it is possible to expect more reasonable laws and regulation in the future. But if [the Russian Ministry of Finance’s] version of the law is passed, then you can forget about legal operations with cryptocurrency for businesses in Russia for the next few years.”
Kevin Rinta of Bitcoin exchange Exmo, which counts a large number of Russian users among its clientele, was more critical.
“In my opinion, it will be some time before any decision will be made regarding its legality,” he said. “Russia will only legalize bitcoin once it has been determined that it does not pose a threat and if the country can somehow benefit from it.”