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Russia's Minister of Finance Suggests Letting Banks Sell Crypto: Report

Cryptocurrencies should be treated like investments in gold and other assets, the minister wrote in a letter to the prime minister.

Russian Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov reiterated the ministry's stance on regulating rather than banning crypto, and suggested legalizing cryptocurrency trading through banks, Russian newspaper Kommersant said, citing a letter Siluanov sent to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Wednesday.

In contrast to the Bank of Russia, which advocates a ban on crypto, Siluanov suggests banks can be authorized to provide cryptocurrency exchange services and licensing rules will be introduced for other types of businesses as well. For companies that aren't licensed, providing crypto services would be treated as a criminal offense. Both the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Russia agree that cryptocurrencies cannot be legal tender in Russia.

The Bank of Russia and Rosfinmonitoring, Russia's anti-money laundering (AML) agency, must have access to the information about cryptocurrency-related transactions, and the Transparent Blockchain transaction tracking system must be used, Siluanov said.

Such an approach would put cryptocurrencies on an equal footing with precious-metal accounts in banks and other regulated investment tools, with obligatory know-your-customer and AML checks for buyers, taxation and regulated fiat on-ramps, Kommersant wrote.

According to Siluanov, Russians own about 2 trillion rubles ($26 billion) worth of crypto, which constitutes a small percentage of the population's total savings. These funds will need to be legalized after the proposed new regulations come into force, Kommerstant wrote. Mining and foreign cryptocurrency trading platforms will also need to be licensed, which will bring additional 180 billion rubles of taxes ($2.3 billion), the regulator said.

Several bodies of the Russian government earlier agreed on a roadmap for cryptocurrency regulation, which must be created by the end of this year. The move was prompted by the Bank of Russia, which published an analytical report earlier in January, calling for a full ban on cryptocurrency trading and mining in the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the government and the Bank of Russia to find a common ground on cryptocurrency regulation, mentioning that Russia has advantages on the global mining market.

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