There has been yet another development in Russia’s relationship with cryptocurrencies. As most people know, the country has never taken kindly to Bitcoin despite showing a keen interest in blockchain technology. It now turns out there is a new plan by Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev to ban the sale of cryptocurrency to mainstream consumers. That is a very strange and unexpected turn of events. After all, it appeared Russia was on the brink of legalizing Bitcoin not too long ago.
What is Going on in Russia?
It is often difficult to make sense of what Russia is trying to achieve with Bitcoin. The country and its officials have issued multiple conflicting statements regarding the future of cryptocurrencies. Their latest update makes no sense either, although it remains to be seen if its provisions will play out. Moiseev’s proposal declares cryptocurrency to be a pyramid scheme, and the sale of Bitcoin to regular consumers to be prohibited.
The proposal is the outcome of a recent interview given by Moiseev to Rossiya 24, a well-known Russian television channel. Officials have offered conflicting opinions on how Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies should be treated in the future. Considering how regulating cryptocurrency itself is impossible regardless of Russia’s wishes, taking an offensive stance appears to be the country’s strategy for the time being.
Deputy Finance Minister Moiseev is a clear proponent of enabling Bitcoin purchases for qualified investors only. This is a very broad definition, but it does seem to exclude most mainstream consumers. After all, there are no guidelines as to how one qualifies as an investor in the first place. Vague statements like these do not make any sense, yet it remains to be determined how Russia plans to address this situation moving forward.
Moiseev feels Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies pose a legitimate threat to everyday consumers from an investment point of view. Deeming the average consumer too stupid to make his or her own decisions about investing in Bitcoin seems pretty harsh. It is certainly true investing in cryptocurrencies could lead to financial loss, but there is no reason to think people cannot judge that risk on their own.
This statement comes just weeks after Russia announced its plan to invest in a Bitcoin mining operation. If the country’s leadership does not believe cryptocurrencies are a safe investment, then why set up a Bitcoin mining operation? Perhaps the government feels cryptocurrency is something to which only the elite should have access, whereas the rest of the population need not bother. Whether or not that proposal will ever become a reality, however, remains to be seen.
There will always be a dysfunctional relationship between certain Russian government officials and the rest of the world. This is especially obvious when it comes to cryptocurrencies and any other investment the government cannot immediately control. Given Russia’s interest in blockchain technology and the concept of potentially issuing its own national digital currency, things may not turn out all that bad. Only time will tell what the future will bring, but for now, it does not look like any major changes will occur.