"Cryptocurrencies could become the new driver of international business and financial transactions, and that would be transformative, if not revolutionary," says Dr. Makarenko, whose consulting firm advises Fortune 500 companies.
But here's the problem:
If we don't truly understand how they are operating, who is controlling them and how to avoid it being used for illicit purposes, it may inadvertently turn out to be one of the most innovative turning points in the underworld, whether it's organized crime, terrorism financing or corruption."
The Crypto 'Embrace' is All About Control
Just last year, Russia was toying around with throwing Bitcoin owners in prison, characterizing cryptocurrency as an infectious pyramid scheme.
Now, Vladimir Putin's Russia is ready to embrace cryptocurrency-if only to control it.
The real push started in July, when a Putin aide unveiled his cryptocurrency mine: an industrial-scale server farm called Russian Miner Coin. In September, the company held an initial coin offering (ICO), raising over $43 million in Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Then came the regulatory push. After all, Russia has lost an estimated $310 million this year alone due to lack of ICO regulation.
In late October, Putin issued five presidential orders for controlling cryptocurrency. This means everything from taxing coin miners and regulating initial coin offerings (ICOs) to creating legislation for new blockchain tech and setting up a single payment space, presumably with the Central Bank.
Still, the Russian government is not entirely unified on the issue. The Central Bank thinks blockchain is cool, but isn't keen on cryptocurrency itself. They'd like to have something like a crypto-ruble that could track transactions from cryptocurrencies into rubles.
It's far more than a fad. Cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly visible across Russia. Mining is becoming so pervasive, in fact, that computer stores are having a hard time keeping graphic and video cards in supply.
The Russian Finance Minister, Anton Siluanov, has even gone as far as to say that cryptocurrency will soon be treated like regular financial securities.
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