Head of Sberbank Predicts Devolution of Russia Should It Ban Bitcoin

News and Analysis

German Gref, head of Russia’s biggest state-owned bank Sberbank, said that penalizing Bitcoin in Russia will result in blockchain development’s halting and regress of the country in general.

“Blockchain, to my reckoning, is a new internet. Or, more precisely, an idea equal to the internet. The idea didn’t even take shape when the regulator stated that cryptocurrencies must not be issued. Then they said one can’t buy them. And now they’re talking about putting those attempting to buy it in jail,” Gref said during his lecture at business school Skolkovo.

He also said that in case the bill banning cryptocurrency in Russia passes, “the entire progress will go beyond Russia, and specialists in blockchain and cryptocurrency will have to leave.”

He added, “They’ll be doing something in friendly jurisdictions, as some countries, around twenty or so, create conditions to attract specialists who develop this prospective technology.”

Gref also predicted that modern banking system will fade away over time, while bank clients will be opening accounts at central banks. Future banking, he believes, will be based on peer-to-peer systems.

The situation around cryptocurrencies in Russia remains ambiguous due to the lack of any unified opinion in their regard across various departments. Back in September 2015, Russia’s Ministry of Finance proposed to use corrective labor as a punishment for issuance of digital currencies. However, in March 2016 the ministry decided that up to 7 years of imprisonment might be more suitable punishment.

The interest towards blockchain technology in Russia, however, continues growing. Blockchain platform developed by local payments processor QIWI, previously known as BitRuble, remains one of the most prominent projects in this realm.

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