Cryptocurrency regulation in Russia: 3 future scenarios
First cryptocurrency appeared in 2009. It received popularity among small group of people. That time it was not mass known, and no one asked the question of its legal regulation. Over the years, the cryptocurrency has become well-known and widespread, but giving it a legal status in most countries is still not solved. Today, only some countries have developed a full legal basis for working with cryptocurrency. Russia seems only on the way to it.
First time the Russian authorities paid attention to the cryptocurrency in 2014. Members of the government and the Central Bank began to “look closely to bitcoin”, but no measures were taken.
In 2015, the lack of a legal framework for bitcoin led to the first precedents in judicial practice related to the use of coins. For example, a small town’s court banned the activities of seven web-sites that worked with cryptocurrencies. The reason for this was the information about money laundering through them. Then it became clear that the complete anonymity of the system will not enable the identification of the suspect in fraudulent activity. Ban of the sites, however, was quickly removed.
The same year deputy Minister of Finance of Russia came up with the idea of a bill that would completely prohibit the circulation of cryptocurrencies in the country. His initiative was not supported. In 2016, lawmakers continued to discuss ways to regulate bitcoin.
The year of 2017 was marked by a wave of criminal cases. As it turned out, the purchase and sale of services, goods or exchange digital currency for rubles may well serve as a reason for starting a court case. For example, in the Kostroma region 3 people were sentenced for exchanging bitcoins for rubles with the formulation of illegal banking activities. In the same year, various fraudulent schemes became popular, when careless sellers lured money from inexperienced buyers under the pretext of selling crypto currency, and afterwards disappeared.
No regulatory acts in this area have been adopted; the status of the crypto currency has not yet been regulated. Experts agree that these funds should rather have the status of intangible assets. At the legislative level, the use of cryptocurrency in the country is not prohibited, but also it is not allowed to freely dispose of it. Under specific circumstances purchases for bitcoins can be regarded even as terrorist activity.
The country still has only one law, with cryptocurrency market can be regulated: it is the main bank bill of 2002. According to it, it is completely prohibited to issue cash surrogates (under the definition of which falls all that is not officially recognized by the authorities) in the country. Fortunately, the real judicial practice in the country does not yet have precedents to consider bitcoin a cash surrogate.
Today, anyone who wants to legalize their cryptocurrency income should register themselves as a business entity and legalize income from the sale or mining. Registration can be carried out:
1. As an assignment of claims with the opening of the wallet on Webmoney.
2. As the sale of certain services.
3. As the sale of financial assets.
The country already understands the necessity for legalization and regulation of cryptocurrency. Otherwise, all operations will irrevocably go into the shadow economy.
Experts suggest several scenarios. The first and the easiest is to refer the exchange of cryptocurrency to currency operations. In this case, cryptocurrency has to be as something like foreign money. This will require adjustment of currency legislation. This position is used in many countries that are already working with cryptocurrencies at official level.
The second scenario is the recognition of cryptocurrency as means of payment. This will also require changes in legislation.
A third option is, when bitcoin to consider bitcoin as property with the right of claim. This will give it a defensive value without affecting other financial aspects.
As the practice of other countries shows and the prospects for the development of cryptocurrencies in our country are, legislators in any case will have to change the usual legal acts, and seriously. In the meantime, comparing to other countries Russia is “one step behind” in this matter.
However, President Vladimir Putin announced the new law in this area. On October 24 2017, the head of state instructed the government and the Bank of Russia to develop changes in legislation. Legislators should not only define the cryptocurrency and regulate operations with it, but also indicate the status of mining. Most likely, home bitcoin mining will be banned. At least, in the case when the amount of electricity spent will exceed the certain limit. But mining farms should receive discounts on electricity.
In addition, the authorities will have to prohibit or legalize payments with cryptocurrencies. In fact, it is impossible to control the blockchain, except to turn off all the computers connected to the network. But it is possible to track the entry and exit points of the cryptocurrency, for example, taking control of exchanges. It is also necessary to solve the VAT issue and develop a procedure for the use of cryptocurrency for legal entities.
The project was supposed to be ready by July 2018, but as we can see, it still does not exist. The Central Bank is constantly changing its mind whether they are ready or not to accept bitcoin. With such an unstable policy, it will hardly be possible to develop something strong enough to regulate the whole financial industry. Moreover, cryptocurrencies are not very amenable to regulation. As practice shows, it will take more than a year for this currency to finally gain recognition and its regulatory framework in our country. So now we are in a quiet good time to make some profit on already circulating and coming to market currencies.