Cryptocurrencies face crucial months to define their fit in the global economy. The big blocs are establishing their official positions and establishing the relationships they hope to have with them. While El Salvador has become the first country to accept Bitcoin as legal tender and two weeks ago China announced a total ban on any operation with cryptocurrencies, now it is Vladimir Putin who has opened the door for them to be consolidated as a method. payment and standard currency for international transfers.
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In an interview with CNBC collected by the Bloomberg agency, the Russian president has stated that cryptocurrencies “have the right to exist and can be used as a means of payment.” However, when asked if they could begin to be used in exports of oil, gas or other raw materials, Putin has opined that it is premature to raise them to that level because “cryptocurrencies are not yet backed by anything.” “It seems to me it is still too early to talk about that. We will see how it develops, perhaps one day it will also be a means of accumulation. We see that this market fluctuates,” he added.
So far, the Russian central bank has followed a similar stance as its European counterparts, focused on warning that cryptocurrencies are a complex and highly volatile investment product. However, this week the Vice Minister of Finance, Alexei Moiseev, has rejected that Russia is going to make a decision similar to that of China and has advanced that the country will not veto operations with cryptocurrencies in the short or medium term.
Cryptocurrencies appear as an option for Russia as an alternative to the use of the dollar, which Putin denounces is used as “a weapon” by the US. Russia has sought alternatives to the US currency since it was imposed sanctions in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea. Proponents of cryptocurrencies argue that this blockchain-based technology is ideal for escaping central bank supervision, although this feature is also what makes its use tempting for countries susceptible to economic sanctions from the Western bloc.
This is also one of the reasons China is pushing its own digital yuan. “China needs a mechanism to bypass the dominance that the US can exercise over the dollar in case things get complicated if it decides to sanction it or block international trade,” explained Claudio Feijo, co-director of the Sino-Hispanic campus of the Tongji University (Shanghai). “They desperately need an alternative resource, that is the digital yuan.”
China is finalizing testing of the digital yuan, which will have its first large-scale trial at the Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing in January 2022. The European Union has also started work to study the creation of the digital euro in response. to cryptocurrencies, although experts warn that this type of currencies promoted by the states will have little to do with the technology that supports cryptocurrencies, fully decentralized. At the moment Russia has not expressed willingness to create its own digital currency, but Putin is active in letting cryptocurrencies develop and even officially use them at some point.