Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that cryptocurrencies pose risks due to their potential to be used for fraud and money laundering.
According to Russian state news organisation TASS, the comments were made during a meeting on the subject of financial tech. The president also voiced his support for new regulations regarding cryptocurrency trading, saying that he wanted Russia to look at international example as a guide for their development.
The Russian president was quoted as saying:
“Virtual or cryptocurrencies are becoming and have already become more popular. They have already become or are turning into a full-fledged payment instrument and in investment asset in certain countries. At the same time, use of cryptocurrencies also carries serious risks.”
Virtual currencies have been on Putin’s radar for a number of years. In 2015, he stated that there were “serious, really fundamental issues related to its wider usage”.
Talking about what form he wanted the upcoming regulation to take, he said that they should “protect interests of citizens, business and the government, and provide legal guarantees for work with innovative financial instruments”.
Putin’s comments come after comments made after Russian Central Bank first deputy governor Sergei Shevetsov that they would move to block access to websites offering “dubious” crypto-coinage.
Reuters quotes Shevetsov as saying:
“We cannot stand apart. We cannot give direct and easy access to such dubious instruments for retail investors.”
Despite the impending sense of regulatory crackdown, there are Russian cryptocurrency projects that are continuing to gain momentum. Bloomberg reports that a company co-owned by the president’s internet ombudsman has raised 443 million in an ICO aimed at funding domestic digital currency-mining operations.
Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank PJSC, is currently considering opening cryptocurrency accounts.
Also, in June Putin held a meeting with Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, where he gave support to the country developing blockchain technology.