In the midst of the war with Ukraine, Russia has been moving forward to enable the use of cryptocurrencies in the country, as a way to circumvent the sanctions imposed against the Russian financial sector.
This Thursday, the Russian central bank granted one of the largest banks in the country, Sberbank, a license to issue and exchange cryptocurrencies.
As Reuters reported, the move could open up new opportunities for the bank, which seeks to mitigate the effect of Western sanctions.
Sberbank is one of many institutions in the country that are targeted by US and EU regulators.
At the beginning of the conflict, the bank suffered a massive wave of withdrawals of funds from its customers. As a result, the bank ran out of liquidity.
Now, Sberbank has been listed on the central bank’s registry – along with the Lighthouse financial ecosystem – which will give both companies the ability to issue digital assets and exchange them on their platforms.
Use of cryptocurrencies in Russia
In early February, Blockchain platform Atomyze Russia became the first company to receive authorization to legally exchange digital assets in the country.
It is worth noting that, prior to these releases, Russian authorities expressed concern about crypto-assets. On one occasion, they even advocated a complete ban on trading and mining digital currencies.
However, it appears that the context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the resulting sanctions have changed that.
Recently the deputy of the State Duma (Russian parliament), Alexander Yakubovsky, stated that the country may even launch its own exchanges to trade cryptocurrencies.
But the Russians are already doing it. Blockchain company Elliptic identified more than 400 digital asset platforms where crypto assets can be purchased for rubles.
In addition, Elliptic has linked several million cryptocurrency addresses to these businesses. According to the company, the most of these services are unregulated and can be used anonymously.
Sberbank’s own cryptocurrency
Also according to the Reuters report, this will not be the first time that Sberbank has been involved with cryptocurrencies.
The bank is working on its own cryptocurrency, Sbercoin, which would be like a stablecoin. The initiative is the result of a partnership between the bank and JP Morgan. However, it remains to be seen whether the digital currency will, in fact, be released after the conflicts.
Furthermore, Sberbank said it would use blockchain technology to allow companies to issue their own digital assets. It will also be possible to buy the assets issued in the Sberbank system and make other transactions with crypto assets.