In April, CCN reported that Russia could recognize and regulate bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in 2018, according to the words of Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev who spoke about the subject. At the time, this market a U-turn from the official who had in the past proposed to imprison bitcoiners in the country.

Only a few days later, Bank of Russia’s Fintech chief Maxim Grigoriev squashed such expectations, stating that the status of cryptocurrencies in Russia was still under discussion at the time, and that speculating results was premature.

On June 1, CCN reported that the head of the Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina, stated that bitcoin would not be considered a currency in the country and that it would be regulated as a ‘digital asset’. At the time, she stated the bank didn’t see huge benefits in introducing cryptocurrencies into the Russian economy, but instead saw doubts and “risks” associated with digital currencies.

Now, according to RT, formerly known as Russia Today, State Duma – the lower house of the Russian legislature – committee member Vadim Dngin says a parliamentary hearing on the legalization of cryptocurrencies, particularly bitcoin, may soon start in the country. He added that bitcoin will “most likely become accepted throughout the world”.

The parliamentarian also added that, for now, legalizing cryptocurrencies wasn’t necessary but that it’s time to think about the issue. In the future, Russia could even have its own bitcoin exchange offices, Vadim stated:

Sooner or later, with the verification of users, we may probably even have bitcoin exchange offices… Such operations will also be possible via the internet, for example, if you are in the office or on the street

Russia’s attitude toward bitcoin and digital currencies has in the past taken its toll. Ulmart – essentially a Russian counterpart of Amazon – attempted in February to start accepting bitcoin payments but was stopped by the country’s central bank. At the time, Ulmart’s chairman Dmitry Kostygin stated:

We saw that there was demand [for bitcoin payments] from some of our customers and so we were considering that seriously. But then, as the central bank intervened, we wouldn’t lose our time [with the feature].

Nevertheless, the e-retailer still decided to start accepting bitcoin payments alongside the fiat ruble, as it has publicly announced it will do so starting September 2017.

Russia’s National Cryptocurrency Development

In 2016, when the Russian Ministry of Finance was well-known for its disdain and intent to criminalize bitcoin activity, the country’s Federal Financial Monitoring Service, Rosfinmonitoring, was the first to discuss a national digital currency, that would be based on a network of both private and public blockchain rules.

In April 2016, Olga Skorobogatova, deputy chairman of Russia’s central bank, Bank of Russia, stated in a blockchain conference that the country could develop its own national digital currency.

Earlier this month, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Olga Skorobogatova made it clear she saw cryptocurrencies as the future and even claimed that it was only a matter of time before countries would adopt national digital currencies. She revealed that the country’s central bank is testing digital currency pilots towards that end. Notably, she stated:

Regulators of all countries agree that it’s time to develop national cryptocurrencies, this is the future. Every country will decide on specific time frames. After our pilot projects, we will understand what system we could sue in our case for our national currency.