- Sberbank was granted Thursday by the Bank of Russia a license to exchange and issue digital assets.
- According to the country’s largest bank, sanctions have impeded some forex transfers in Russia and elsewhere.
- Some regulators are concerned that Russia might use crypto to reduce the sanctions’ impact.
Russia’s central bank granted Sberbank permission to issue and trade crypto in response to sanctions on its forex transfers.
The Bank of Russia added Thursday the lender to its register of companies that can issue digital financial assets. It also granted Lighthouse a license.
Sberbank applied in January to Launch a Stablecoin. It said that it would allow companies to issue their own crypto assets Reuters reported. It will purchase the assets that have been released through its blockchain-based platform, and perform other transactions. These licenses represent a shift in direction for the Bank of Russia. It has demanded an outright ban crypto mining, trading and usage in the country.
According to Reuters, Russia’s largest bank stated that Western sanctions against Russia have reduced the number of currencies available for transfer to other banks in Russia and overseas. According to Reuters, Sberbank stated that it will no longer be able make transfers to any other banks in US dollars or Canadian dollars, pounds sterling and Danish crowns.
In accordance with sanctions coordinated by allies, the US closed down Sberbank’s access to the dollar at its banks in March. Many Russian banks were removed from SWIFT, the messaging system that facilitates global transfers between institutions. This makes it more difficult for them to transfer funds out of Russia.
US legislators have expressed concern about Russia using crypto assets to bypass sanctions.
On Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and 11 other Democrats presented a bill to allow the US government block transactions with Russian-linked Crypto addresses.
The US Treasury warned in October that the effects of sanctions could be dampened by decentralized digital assets.
However, crypto experts said Thursday that there was no evidence Russia is using digital assets in order to avoid sanctions.
According to Michael Mosier (deputy director at US enforcement agency FinCEN), “You can’t flip the switch overnight and run a G-20 economic system on cryptocurrency.” Sberbank applied to the Bank of Russia for a license to launch a stablecoin, according CoinDesk.