14 September 2022
Russian companies may start transacting in cryptocurrency with partners abroad as early as next year and will be free to pick the coin they want to use, officials in Moscow have indicated. The sanctioned country is preparing to legalize foreign trade settlements with digital assets and this could happen in the coming months.
Russia may authorize cross-border crypto settlements with the law “On Digital Currency” which was presented by the Ministry of Finance in February of this year and has been supported by the government. Russian lawmakers are expected to review it during the fall session of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
Ivan Chebeskov, director of the ministry’s Financial Stability Department, has been quoted as saying that the draft features a provision on international transactions with digital assets. It recognizes cryptocurrency as property that can be used in barter deals. At the same time, the official did not rule out the adoption of a dedicated law specifically regulating cross-border crypto payments.
“We have a number of legislative initiatives that we are working on, which have not yet been formally submitted to the government. Therefore, there may be different options for how this can be implemented,” Chebeskov told the daily Izvestia, remarking that the initiative could come from deputies. He added that it’s quite realistic to expect to see international crypto transactions in 2023.
One of the lawmakers involved in these efforts, the head of the parliamentary Financial Market Committee Anatoly Aksakov, admitted in a conversation with the newspaper that he was ready to sponsor legislative acts regulating the matter. He further elaborated that Russian businesses will be able to choose which cryptocurrency they want to trade in — bitcoin, ethereum or any other.
He insisted, however, that Russia must create its own crypto infrastructure, emphasizing that participants should enter the crypto market only through it, and under strict regulatory control. Aksakov admitted that the country does not currently have this infrastructure but said that the stock exchanges in Moscow and Saint Petersburg are ready to provide it. He was also positive that international transactions with crypto can begin next year.
Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Economy revealed that it’s working together with the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Russia on the issue of using digital currency in foreign trade. Its representatives assured that the department supports this approach as it has the potential to reduce pressure from sanctions, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises that are facing difficulties in making international payments.
Russia has been trying to find a way to circumvent expanding financial restrictions imposed by Western governments over its military invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The finance ministry and the central bank recently agreed that the country cannot do without cross-border settlements in cryptocurrency. The monetary authority, a strong opponent of allowing the free circulation of bitcoin and the like, emphasized that there is no talk of legalizing crypto as a means of payment inside the country.
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