Russian Official: Payment Giant Qiwi's Digital Currency Idea 'Illegal'

A Russian official is speaking out against plans by a leading domestic payment company to release a bitcoin alternative.

AccessTimeIconSep 16, 2015 at 7:55 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 10, 2022 at 7:59 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

A Russian government official has spoken out against a leading domestic payments company's plan to release its own digital currency sometime next year.

Reports by Russian-language news services Kommersant and Pravda suggest that QIWI, a Moscow-based payments firm, is working to develop a bitcoin-like currency that will be a virtualization of the ruble. Sergei Solonin, QIWI’s CEO, told Kommersant in an interview that the concept could be deployed as early as next year.

However, a report from state-owned news service TASS suggests that Russian officials aren't warm to the concept.

According to TASS, Russian financial ombudsman Pavel Medvedev dismissed the concept as against the country's laws, stating during a radio appearance:

"It's absolutely illegal, such technical hooliganism [is] absolutely inappropriate. The Constitution says who has the right to Russia to issue money - it is the central bank. The only currency in Russia is the ruble."
QIWI, according to financial statements published in March, oversaw $11.5bn in payments volume during 2014 and total adjusted net revenue of $157.1m over the course of that year.

The news comes as bitcoin and digital currencies experience significant headwinds in Russia. Earlier this summer, Russian president Vladimir Putin spoke of the “serious, really fundamental issues related to its wider usage” when speaking of types of electronic money, including bitcoin.

It remains clear whether QIWI’s digital currency dream becomes a reality. Despite the hope for a launch in early 2016, Solonin reportedly said that the outcome will depend largely on the response from Russian authorities – of which Medvedev's on-air response could be the first of a number of criticisms.

Notably, Solonin indicated that the company was developing a kind of user identification system that would complement the digital currency.

QIWI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Image via Shutterstock


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.