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Cryptocurrencies Should Not be Banned: CEO of Russia’s Largest Bank

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:03 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:03 PM

Influential Russian banker and bitcoiner Herman Gref, head of Sberbank, has reaffirmed his position in opposing a ban of cryptocurrencies.

While Russian authorities have considerably softened their previously-hostile stance on cryptocurrencies, the chief executive of Russia’s biggest bank has gone a step further in urging authorities to be patient with decentralized currencies – even with regulation.

Russian authorities and financial officials should be tolerant of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, Russian news agency TASS  quotes Sberbank CEO Herman Gref as stating. The banker went a step further, stressing that cryptocurrencies are yet to be understood and any regulation should be measured and considered, not reactionary.

“Before trying to regulate it, it is necessary to maintain a normal background around the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency,” Gref said. “It is necessary to explain to people that it does not store value, but right now is rather a very dangerous thing, like a lottery or a casino,” he added, presumably referencing the soaring rise in adoption, among retail investors & everyday citizens, and value of cryptocurrencies in 2017.

He went on to add:

It [crypotocurrencies] should not be banned, as it is a great new technology in development, which no one is yet to comprehend.

Gref’s latest comments see the banker doubling down on his position against a ban on any facet of the financial technology – be it blockchain applications or cryptocurrencies. In mid-2016, amid the Russian finance ministry’s (failed) attempt to introduce a bitcoin ban bill that criminalized bitcoin adopters, Gref openly spoke of holding a small amount of bitcoin and opposing the bill. At the time, Russia’s finance ministry proposed a prison sentence up to 7 years for bitcoin adopters.

Later that year, Gref even revealed he was trading bitcoin with fiat, back and forth. “This is, of course, a great pleasure and a nice game but soon, it will be our whole life,” Gref said at the time, addressing an audience during an educational project between Sberbank and Google.

Gref’s Sberbank, which recently opened an exclusive blockchain lab in the country, is notably a member of two of the biggest blockchain consortiums in the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance (EEA) and the Linux Foundation-led Hyperledger Project, two working groups working to leverage open-source blockchain technology in enterprise and commercial applications. A year ago, the banker bullishly predicted the advent of commercial blockchain applications in 2019.

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