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Russia approves digital assets for international payments with strict rules against money laundering

Stack of Bitcoin coins on Russian flag

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Russian Deputy Finance Minister Aleksei Moiseyev has revealed that key agencies have agreed on the use of digital assets to settle international transactions. Local publication Kommersant quoted Moiseev as saying that the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank agreed on the latest policy.

Moiseev noted that the two key agencies had gone through the finer details of a bill that would legalize the use of virtual currencies in international trade. However, he admits that the parties must ensure they have a “rigid” infrastructure in place to prevent bad actors from taking advantage of the change.

In particular, Moiseev cited the need for an appropriate framework to ensure that the bill falls under current anti-money laundering rules and is not used to finance drug trafficking and terrorism worldwide.

“In practice, it is generally described how to acquire cryptocurrency, what can be done with it, and how it can or cannot be paid with in general in cross-border payments,” Moiseev said.

To achieve this, the deputy finance minister stated that digital asset service providers must cooperate with Russian regulatory agencies, contrary to the current trend of “people opening crypto wallets outside the Russian Federation.”

“This must be done by entities supervised by the central bank, which are obliged to comply with the requirements of anti-money laundering legislation and, above all, of course, to know their customers,” said Moiseyev.

Free hands for entrepreneurs

Earlier this week, a Treasury official revealed some details of the incoming bill, claiming the law would allow companies to decide how they want digital currencies to be used for cross-border payments. He argued that entrepreneurs are in the best position to make decisions and choose the virtual currencies to be used, negotiations with counterparties and suitable countries.

The proposed use of digital assets in international trade is a direct result of the harsh economic sanctions imposed on Russia after its occupation of Ukraine. Experts claim that since the introduction of sanctions in February, the Russian economy has shrunk by more than five percent, and the use of virtual currencies is one way to circumvent the sanctions.

Despite this, there are concerns about the current ban on digital assets in local payments within Russia’s borders and how that may affect the proposed use of cross-border payment transactions only. Law enforcement agencies face an uphill climb to enforce the separation in the coming months.

See: BSV Global Blockchain Convention panel, Better Payments with BSV

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