In a somewhat surprising departure from its belligerent pre-war stance against cryptocurrencies, the Russian Central Bank has reportedly agreed with the country’s Ministry of Finance on legalizing crypto to facilitate cross-border payments.
Crypto For Cross-Border Settlements
According to a Thursday report from the Russian news agency Kommersant, the Bank of Russia and the Ministry of Finance have reached a consensus on the usage of cryptocurrencies for international payments.
Kommersant quoted Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseyev as saying that the government department and the central bank have agreed “on the whole” on a bill that would allow citizens to send money internationally using crypto.
Moiseyev noted that the proposed bill looks to give Russian residents access to digital wallets.
“It generally describes how to acquire cryptocurrency, what can be done with it, and how it can or cannot be settled with it in the first place in cross-border settlements.”
Russia’s relationship with the crypto sector has always been tumultuous. President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning digital payments in July, but the Bank of Russia was pushing for all crypto-related activities to be criminalized in the country.
This was all while the Ministry of Finance actively discussed using cryptocurrencies for cross-border settlements. Earlier this month, Moiseyev highlighted the need for enabling cryptocurrency services within the Russian Federation that will be supervised by the Central Bank itself, which needs to comply with anti-money laundering provisions (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC).
Russia Warming Up To Bitcoin
Russia’s noticeable change of heart stems from the mounting sanctions amid the war with Ukraine. As you may recall, Russia was blocked from SWIFT’s international payments system. The government has been exploring multiple options, including talking to friendly countries about establishing clearing platforms for international payments in stablecoins.
The head of the parliamentary Energy Committee, Pavel Zavalny, confirmed earlier in March that Russia would be open to accepting payments in bitcoin for its energy exports.
The Bank of Russia is also in the process of creating a digital ruble.