It Might Be ‘too Early to Celebrate’ Russia’s New Crypto Law
Russia’s new crypto legislation was finally approved this week, after a delay of over two years – but it might be that the true battle for crypto regulation in the country is yet to begin.
A local expert has hinted that when policymakers decided to divide the “On Digital Assets” bill into two, they effectively ended up kicking the can further down the road.
A long impasse between the crypto-skeptic Central Bank and pro-industry forces saw State Duma policy chiefs create two new draft laws: “On Digital Assets” (approved on June 22) and “On Digital Currencies.”
The former passed its third and final reading at the Duma on Wednesday.
Speaking to Cryptonews.com, Maria Stankevich, head of development at the EXMO trading platform, stated,
“The key for the industry is precisely the draft ‘On Digital Currencies’ bill, which is still under discussion.”
The law passed on Wednesday should come into force on January 1, 2021, but Stankevich said that “it looks more like a glossary of concepts than a law itself.”
The most notable provision of the law for the country’s crypto sector pertains to token-based transactions, which have been legalized under its terms. Crucially, however, payments in crypto will be made illegal.
Some critics have decried this, stating that it seems nonsensical.
Stankevich stated, however, that the provision “seems quite fair” to her as “few people in Russia are interested in bitcoin (BTC) as a means of payment.”
She added that Russians accept that they cannot pay for goods in euros or dollars under Russian law, but want to be able to make exchanges using foreign currencies – or crypto.
Regardless, she added a note of caution, stating,
“We believe that it is too early to celebrate, because the current law is nothing more than a glossary. There may be surprises on the horizon.”
However, although crypto’s fate is still very much in the balance there is still room for optimism, said industry players.
A much-decried previous (and unified version) of the bill shown to the Duma earlier this summer suggested something akin to a China-style crypto crackdown. Although this won the support of the Central Bank, pro-industry voices, including many within the government were appalled by it. And that, suggested Stankevich, could be a sign that there are folks in high places ready to fight the good fight for crypto’s cause.
“Both businesses and politicians have actively shown their position in recent weeks, and even [the head of the Duma’s financial committee] Anatoly Aksakov backed down.”
Per Reuters, Aksakov told MPs at the hearing that “essentially, cryptocurrency is a complex of digital data, a digital code or a reference, that is stored in information systems.”
Other experts also reacted with cautious optimism.
Speaking to media outlet RBC, Dmitry Kirillov, a lawyer at legal firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paiser (Russia) and a lecturer at the Moscow Digital School, stated that the bill passed on Wednesday “no longer looks as draconian as the May version,” but added that it “still embodies the struggle with the Central Bank.”