If reports are to be believed, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) might end up lifting the ban on Bitcoin, a multifaceted decentralized digital currency misread as a financial aid to the world’s most notorious illegal activities.
According to the Russian media outlet Izvestia, the central bank is scheduled to meet the representatives from the financial markets next week, where they will speak in length about the future of Bitcoin in Russia. There is a strong probability that the meeting will conclude with Russia lifting the ban on the digital currency use, for the government’s perception towards this payment technology has improved a lot over the last year.
Up until now however, the digital currency continues to be treated as a “money substitute” which, as per the Russian Federal law, cannot be used by individuals and legal entities. In October 2014, the Russian finance ministry ultimately passed a ruling that termed the use of digital currencies as “illegal”, something that was about to be made into law by Spring 2015.
There was, however, an appeal against the ruling — of Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development — which feared that a ban would simply end up hitting major telecom operators, retailers and banks hard, for they all rely on near-money assets such as discount coupons, recharge cards, etc. to sell their products. The ministry thereby proposed to define quasi-money as monetary units — including Bitcoin — that can be used as a means of payment and/or exchange.
In the meantime, Russia was already undergoing an economic crisis followed by the fall in crude oil prices and international economic sanctions imposed. The country’s National Payment Council had feared that the country may soon “suffer from restriction of access to the global financial system, in particular to the payment system SWIFT,” due to which “the government should pay more attention to financial innovations [like Bitcoin] instead of trying to ban them.”
The Izvestia’s report speaks of an anonymous, and confidential source in CBR that believes Bitcoin’s ban will be replaced by a regulatory framework — particularly to carry out individual transfers and payments. But it is, after all, a rumor despite the impeccable credibility the Russian newspaper holds.
Even if the news turn out to be just a hoax, we believe Russia to be an ideal place where Bitcoin could be experimented to its fullest potential. Let’s wait for a week and see if it is happening, or not.