Billionaire’s Crypto Binge: Russia’s Richest Man to Tokenize Palladium

Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin wants to launch cryptocurrency tokens pegged to the precious metal palladium.

Potanin also wants to establish a regulatory framework for digital platforms in order to promote crypto use in Russia.

“Transactions in tokens are simpler and more convenient,” Potanin said, as reported by Bloomberg. “People more and more tend to use decentralized networks and platforms that don’t have a main operator. We want to be active participants of this process.”

Potanin Plans Initial $5 Million Investment

Potanin — whose net worth tops $18 billion — is the richest man in Russia and the CEO of Norilsk Nickel, a nickel and palladium-mining company.

The Russian oligarch wants to launch several digital platforms, including one that will use cryptocurrency tokens for trading palladium.

Potanin estimates that he’ll have to invest $5 million to $6 million to launch all the platforms. He projects that it will cost several million dollars a year to keep them operational. However, he says if his plan works, the payoff would be tremendous.

“If we succeed, the effect will be enormous.”

Potanin’s company, Norilsk Nickel, is the world’s top palladium producer. Norilsk Nickel is currently negotiating with Swiss authorities to issue digital tokens through its Switzerland-based palladium fund.

Vladimir Putin Wants Crypto Regulations

Potanin says he could start working on creating the digital platforms before the end of 2019, if he can get regulatory approval. But that’s a big if.

As CCN reported, Russian president Vladimir Putin — a bitcoin skeptic — set a July 2019 deadline for crypto regulations to be put in place in Russia. However, it’s unclear if these rules will be enacted this year.

Putin previously set a July 2018 deadline for the implementation of guidelines for bitcoin trading, initial coin offerings, blockchain, and crypto mining. But those regulations never materialized.

Moreover, Vladimir Putin is not a bitcoin fan. Putin has expressed concern about the unregulated cryptocurrency market because it’s not backed by a central bank. However, he has since warmed up a bit to crypto.

In February 2019, Putin told the Russian State Duma and the Council of the Federation of Russia to adopt cryptocurrency rules by July 1. The regulations are designed to promote the digital economy in Russia, which is struggling financially amid crushing U.S. sanctions.

Vladimir Potanin hopes the regulations will pass this summer so he can start his project before the end of the year. His main concern is that the crypto platforms not be controlled by central banks — in keeping with the bitcoin credo of decentralization.

Eugene Kaspersky: World Isn’t Ready for Bitcoin

While Potanin and other Russian business moguls are bitcoin enthusiasts who are eager to promote cryptocurrency adoption in Russia, others aren’t so convinced.

Take billionaire Eugene Kaspersky. He says bitcoin is a brilliant innovation, but the world is not ready for it yet. However, the CEO of Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab believes that will change — in 100 years.

“Cryptocurrencies are a great idea, but the world is not ready for them yet. The world must be united if we want to have encrypted currencies. At the moment, governments will want to control them.”

Last modified (UTC): March 28, 2019 10:10 AM

About the author

Samantha Chang

Samantha Chang is a New York City-based financial editor who writes about crypto and business at . She is a law school grad and an alum of the University of Pennsylvania. You can reach her on Twitter at or email her at [email protected]