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Tighter control of P2P transfers by the Bank of Russia may lead to an increase in the popularity of cryptocurrencies as a payment channel less controlled by the authorities, but this will prevent the legalization of the market. ForkLog was told about it by the interviewed experts.
The media reported that the Central Bank of the Russian Federation will strengthen supervision of illegal transactions through banks from 2022. Later, the regulator clarified that we are not talking about total control over money transfers of individuals – the Central Bank will collect anonymized customer data if there is a risk of using banking platforms for illegal operations of cryptocurrency exchangers, online casinos and bookmakers.
The initiative is in line with the regulator’s course to strengthen control over transactions. In September, the Central Bank defined criteria that would allow banks to identify cards and e-wallets used by shady businesses. Even then, the central bank ranked among such cryptocurrency exchangers, illegal online casinos, financial pyramids and illegal forex dealers.
From October 1, there are also changes in the regulation of the Central Bank 375-P, according to which transactions related to the circulation of digital currencies are by default classified as suspicious.
This regulatory act is mandatory for all banks, without exception, and financial organizations have the right to block card and current accounts on this basis, lawyers say. Already, cases of blocking of accounts of cryptocurrency owners have become more frequent, new measures by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation may increase their number.
Recently, the rhetoric of the Bank of Russia in relation to cryptocurrencies has become significantly tougher.
The Central Bank said that they see no place for crypto-assets in the Russian financial market, and various sources report that the regulator is going to prohibit investments in bitcoin. Anatoly Aksakov, head of the State Duma Committee on the Financial Market, also spoke about the fact that the Russian authorities are discussing various options for regulating the industry – from a complete ban on the ownership and purchase of digital currencies to the legalization of bitcoin exchanges.
“The situation can get to the point of absurdity when, according to the law, cryptocurrencies are legal property, but in fact exchangers and even transfers from foreign exchanges are blocked,” Viktor Argonov, EXANTE analyst, told ForkLog.
According to the Bank of Russia estimates, the volume of transactions of residents of the country with cryptocurrencies annually amounts to about $ 5 billion. Experts say that the measures of the Central Bank are aimed at increasing tax collection and replenishing the budget for a long time.
“Such actions can bring hundreds of billions of rubles into the budget. Do not forget that there are not only traders and those who buy cryptocurrency as a long-term investment on the market, but also miners who could also replenish the budget and work in a white field, ”said Vladimir Smerkis, founder of the Definition blockchain community.
He also stressed that now many users carry out P2P transactions only because this is one of the few possible options for trading cryptoassets that are not prohibited by law.
However, increased monitoring of transactions of individuals, instead of increasing the legality of financial flows in the Russian Federation, may lead to the opposite effect – cryptocurrencies from the “gray zone” will go underground, where their popularity will increase against the background of a decrease in citizens’ confidence in the state, experts say.
The consequence of the Central Bank’s measures may be the flow of funds to other, more anonymous fiat payment systems outside the Russian jurisdiction, as well as to cryptocurrencies:
“Leaving cryptocurrencies is technically more difficult, but only as long as citizens are just looking at them. In the West, payment systems such as PayPal are increasingly merging with crypto. Whether legally or not, this process will also affect Russia, ”Argonov said.
Indefibank CEO Sergei Mendeleev believes that formally monitoring by the central bank will not affect the owners of cryptocurrencies in any way:
“No Central Bank is able (and cannot be able to) control P2P transfers in the crypt – it, in fact, was created for this.”
Dmitry Kirillov, an advisor to Lidings, a lecturer at Moscow Digital School, noted that for the owners of cryptoassets, monitoring by the Central Bank poses a danger precisely in terms of withdrawing funds to fiat through classic bitcoin exchangers:
“The regulator may consider the systematic nature of such transfers without documentary justification to be illegal banking activity. In such a situation, the exchange of crypto assets and the withdrawal of fiat from a regulated crypto exchange becomes more secure. “
Since in most cases the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies in Russia is carried out on card accounts, a huge number of crypto enthusiasts can switch to cash payments, says Mikhail Tretyak, partner at the law firm Digital Rights Center.
Another reason for the departure of cryptocurrency owners from traditional payment channels such as banks may be the laws announced by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, which spell out the rules for the confiscation of digital assets. The need for this was also discussed in the Investigative Committee.
“As a result, the Bank of Russia, together with the power bloc, once again, trying to crush the bitcoin market, shoots itself in the foot. Instead of clear regulation with the possibility of taxation, the Central Bank actually makes the cryptoindustry go completely into the shadows, or even emigrate from the country altogether, “Tretyak said.
Now the Russian cryptocurrency community is faced with a choice – either to fully legalize its operations, or to continue to be “in the shadows,” says Andrei Tugarin, Managing Partner of GMT Legal.
The first option implies the presence of confirmation and justification of the source of origin of funds and the economic meaning of transactions, verification of accounts on cryptocurrency platforms and a willingness to fulfill tax obligations.
“We recommend that the owners of cryptoassets take the first, legal path to enter the legal field. This will contribute to the development of transparent and clear legal regulation of the industry, which is now sorely lacking, ”Tugarin said.
In the second case, the chances of blocking accounts and other negative sanctions in the implementation of “gray” schemes increase, the lawyer emphasized.
Recall that in September, the Bank of Russia announced the creation of a mechanism for blocking payments to cryptocurrency exchanges and exchangers. In December, the media reported that the Central Bank is considering blocking card transfers for certain MCC codes to limit investment in crypto assets.
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