Less than two weeks after the Central Bank of Russia, or CBR, reiterated its position and proposed to ban the issuance, mining and circulation of cryptocurrencies in Russia, it appears to have re-evaluated its policies. In a press release published on Thursday, the CBR added the country’s largest lender, Sberbank, to its register of information system operators for digital financial assets. Such as reported by local news channel Tass, the CBR stated:
“Inclusion in the registry allows companies to issue digital financial assets and exchange them between users within their platforms.”
Sberbank’s blockchain platform is based on a distributed ledger technology, which in theory can protect against the manipulation of information. Legal entities on Sberbank will soon be able to issue digital financial statements that certify monetary claims, acquire digital assets allocated in Sberbank’s system and conduct crypto transactions. Sergey Popov, director of the transaction department at Sberbank, made the following comments about the development:
“While we are still in the early stages of working with digital assets, we realize that further development is needed to adapt to the existing regulatory framework. We are ready to work closely with the regulatory and executive authorities in this direction.”
As a state-owned bank, Sberbank has been the target of sanctions, such as those imposed by the US Treasury Department, since the beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine. Earlier this month, Sberbank exited almost all European markets due to sanctions imposed by the European Union. At the same time, its foreign deposit shares have: plummeted by over 99% on the London Stock Exchange, with trading halted and the last quoted price being $0.05 each.
The devastating sanctions imposed on Sberbank alongside the apparent reversal of the CBR’s policy on crypto have sparked speculation that digital currencies could be a “lifeline” for the troubled bank. However, experts do not believe that sanctioned financial institutions can use crypto to evade sanctions.