Citing Regulator, Sberbank Scraps Crypto Plans in Russia

The bank could still launch its planned cryptocurrency via its Swiss subsidiary

A leading executive at Sberbank said on Thursday that his company is scrapping its cryptocurrency plans.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, global markets head Andrey Shemetov said that steps taken, or perhaps not taken, by authorities meant the banking group has put the brakes on its cryptocurrency plans.

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“Regarding cryptocurrency, we waited for legislation that allows you to trade cryptocurrency,” said Shemetov. “Since the regulator is currently looking negatively [at digital assets], we decided to suspend our cryptocurrency plan.”

The Central Bank of Russia has made mixed noises with regard to cryptocurrency. Thus, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the regulator has done or said that would mean Shemetov and Sberbank felt inclined to stop pursuing cryptocurrency projects.

Still, the move is not completely unexpected. Two weeks ago, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said that authorities in the country were no longer making cryptocurrency regulations a priority.

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“Nowadays, the popularity of cryptocurrency has decreased, and regulatory issues may not be so relevant,” he said at a legal conference in St Petersburg.

Over in Russia but not in Switzerland

Sberbank’s own plans for cryptocurrency stretch back to early 2018. In February of that year, the Russian banking giant said that it was planning to launch a cryptocurrency exchange for its customers.

A couple of months later, the company said that it was testing cryptocurrency investment platforms for its customers in conjunction with Alfa Bank, another Russian banking group.

And although it may not be pursuing these options in Russia anymore, Sberbank may develop cryptocurrency services via one of its subsidiaries.

For instance, the cryptocurrency exchange that the firm announced in the first quarter of last year was going to be launched by its Swiss subsidiary. If Shemetov’s comments pertained only to Sberbank’s Russian operations, then the bank’s plans for a cryptocurrency exchange would remain unaffected.

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