In the wake of the Japanese government’s recent recognition of digital currencies, a representative of the Russian government has reportedly indicated that his nation could follow suit next year. According to a Bloomberg report, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev affirmed his government’s desire to formally recognize digital currencies like Bitcoin as early as 2018. Russian authorities are currently working with the country’s central bank to create a common approach to cryptocurrencies.
The news stands in sharp contrast to the situation that existed last year, when officials from the Russian Finance Ministry appeared steadfast in their determination to criminalize the ownership and use of digital currencies. Since then, the official position on cryptocurrencies has been difficult to assess, as there appeared to be a clear difference of opinion between the Russian Duma, the Finance Ministry, and other power centers within the country.
Meanwhile, the Russian government continues to battle against illegal transactions as part of its ongoing effort to combat money laundering. That battle has seen great success in recent years, as many lenders have been stripped of their licenses and laundering schemes have been dramatically impacted by the increased enforcement effort.
At this point, legalization and formal recognition of Bitcoin and other digital currencies will almost certainly come with increased monitoring and reporting requirements. The move to formal recognize these currencies will likely be designed to provide the Bank of Russia with yet another weapon in its war on money laundering and other financial crimes.