The Russian finance ministry has cast doubt on talk of the nation selling oil for crypto – but claims that blockchain-powered tokens could play an “alternative” role in the business dealings of smaller-scale exporters.
Per RTVI, Ivan Chebeskov, the head of the financial policy department at the Ministry of Finance, Russia has no plans to do business in bitcoin (BTC) or other coins – although it is happy for private-sector firms to use coins in “barter”-style contracts.
The ministry has previously stated that it wants to classify crypto as an asset class, and “not as a means of payment.” As such, crypto would – under the ministry’s proposals – be protected by property rights, and could not be used in conventional financial contracts. It could only be used in “barter”-type trade deals, whereby coins are “swapped” for goods and services.
Oil exports, though, appear to be off the table.
Chebeskov was quoted as stating:
“[Our] job is to give [Russian businesses] an alternative [with crypto], and not to say that now Russia is going to use crypto to pay for everything. This is not about trades conducted by the state. It’s only about private business. And oil will most likely not be sold for bitcoin due to the large volumes [involved].”
Chebeskov added that crypto-powered trade was only possible in the case of “relatively small contracts” and with “friendly countries” that are open to the use of crypto in trade deals.
The ministry has updated a draft bill – originally rolled out in February – that seeks to “legalize” and regulate the crypto sector with a clause that would allow international traders to make and receive crypto payments. Some had previously speculated that this clause might allow state-owned energy exporters to accept crypto payments for oil and gas.
But Chebeskov’s comments appear to have put an end to such talk. He did, however, claim that the crypto-skeptic Central Bank was now prepared to allow Russian firms to do international business in crypto. But, as previously reported, the bank has insisted that it will only give firms the green light to begin crypto-powered trade if they can ensure the coins are kept out of the Russian economy.
Chebeskov added that crypto was an ineffective tool for sanctions evasion efforts, stating:
“Why have the Americans said they will try to block [Russians from using crypto platforms]? Because in fact, all public cryptocurrencies are quite easy to trace. They are not very opaque: that’s a myth.”