Elvira Nabiullina, the chairwoman of Russia’s Central Bank (RCB), believes that excitement towards cryptocurrencies is waning. The famous economist, who last year was voted as the “Europe’s Central Banker of the year” spoke in the annual FINNOPOLIS innovation forum, held in Sochi, reports a major Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
The former economic advisor of Vladimir Putin claimed that, “We are holding the FINOPOLIS forum for the fourth time. Earlier, this event used to witness a cryptocurrency fever everywhere. But now, it is visibly beginning to disappear. Back in old times, technologies like blockchain caused a great deal of enthusiasm, but, in our opinion, now a more sober attitude towards such technologies has begun.“
However, it seems that the prominent banker favours the distributed ledger technology, praising the local businesses who are trying to implement in their operations and find real-world use cases. Curiously, in contrast to many of her counterparts, she has acknowledged initial coin offerings (ICO) as a good way for blockchain startups to raise funds.
However, Nabiullina mentioned that the majority of crypto projects that came about as a result of the first ICO wave were either fraudulent or failed to accomplish their overly ambitious goals. The Library of Congress states that currently only qualified investors are allowed to participate in ICOs, although there are exceptions by RCB. Tokens are not classified as legal tender and thus cannot be exchanged for rubles or other currency.
The head of RCB also claimed that there is now a difference in the perception of digital finance, compared to just a few years ago. According to her, “Digital technologies are becoming a regular part of the modern world. Digital finance is no longer the world of the advanced consumer. It is the world of the mass consumer.“
Back in 2017, Nabiullina was far more bearish on virtual currencies, labelling them “money surrogates”, which will not be featured on Russian exchanges. She has also compared the last year’s surge of cryptocurrencies to gold fever, saying that she is “categorically against” regulating digital assets or equating them to foreign currencies.
Russia has been notoriously tough on its crypto aficionados, with even Vladimir Putin commenting that RCB defines cryptocurrency as having no backing which is why it cannot be used for payments or as a store of value. However, the Russian president has also acknowledged that crypto could be used to sidestep the ever-increasing Western sanctions, highlighting a need to study them to know “how we can use it in order to avoid any restrictions in the field of international financial activity.“
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