BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2017/19

Russian officials have earlier viewed the concept of virtual currency with scepticism. In spring 2016, for example, the finance ministry proposed a bill that included a fine of up to 2.5 million rubles (€34,000) and 7 years in prison for those caught using virtual currency. The proposal was premised on the ideas that virtual currency represented a threat to the financial system and was potentially connected to crime. Experts in the field and at the justice ministry responded with critiques of the proposal. In autumn 2016, the proposal was in practice withdrawn as it was on indefinite hold.

Russian officials this year have warmed to the idea of virtual currency. In February, CBR deputy governor Olga Skorobogatova said a national virtual currency could be possible in the future. Last month, deputy finance minister Alexei Moiseyev said authorities could recognize bitcoin and other virtual currencies as legal tender as early as 2018. One reason for using a virtual currency would be preventing illegal money transfers. However, no final decision on regulation of virtual or cryptocurrencies has been taken yet.