Russian Central Bank Strikes Restrictive Tone on Cryptocurrency

The chief of Russia’s central bank has reportedly spoken out against regulation that would classify cryptocurrency as a traditional financial instrument.

In comments last week at an event in Sochi, Bank of Russia governor Elvira Nabiullina, who previously served as President Vladimir Putin’s economic adviser, she said she specifically opposes any policy that would deem the technology comparable to foreign currency, payment instruments or “monetary assets,” though she stopped short of suggesting what determination she would ultimately support.

According to Sputnik, Nabiullina said:

“We are categorically opposed to introducing cryptocurrencies in regulation as a monetary asset, an asset used to pay for goods and services, are against equating it with foreign currencies, because … there is foreign currency, there are states that produce it, there are economies and central banks that are behind it.”

That same day, another official from the Bank of Russia, deputy governor Dmitry Skobelkin, also took a hard-line approach when speaking with reporters after a meeting with representatives of the Chinese government, according to Bloomberg.

“China doesn’t recognize cryptocurrency as payment and forbids ICOs,” he said. “Our views are absolutely similar. In our view, it’s a sort of a financial pyramid that may collapse at any moment.”

But while notable, it’s important to remember that the Bank of Russia, though overseeing monetary policy, does not regulate domestic financial policy (a task overseen by the Ministry of Finance) or introduce new laws (a responsibility of the Russian parliament).

Nonetheless, the comments come at a time when all three groups continue to deliberate how best to regulate the emerging technology. Already, regulation on cryptocurrency trading is expected this year, which could result in some kind of specific definition for cryptocurrencies under state law.

A senior official from the State Duma, Russia’s national legislature, recently predicted that work on this front will be completed by the end of the fall.

Editor’s Note: Statements in this article were translated from Russian.

Elvira Nabiullina image via ID1974/Shutterstock

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