Russia's deputy finance minister, Alexei Moiseev, has spoken out on how he believes cryptocurrencies should be regulated in the country.
According to reports issued by RT yesterday, Moiseev suggested in a televised interview that bitcoin should not be classified as a currency, but rather as a property or asset.
Moiseev further stated that bitcoin was a high risk "financial pyramid" and that, in order to protect consumers, bitcoin exchange should be performed only by "qualified investors" on the Moscow Stock Exchange. As such, "ordinary people" would be prohibited from buying and selling the cryptocurrency.
"We suggest not to call it currencies, do not regulate it as currencies, regulate how ... other property, classify it as a financial asset and allow only classified investors to buy and sell them on the exchange," Moiseev stated according to RSN.
On the stock exchange, bitcoin would be subject to "Rosfinmonitoring" - a decree issued by President Vladimir Putin in order to collect and analysis financial transactions for protection against fraud.
Moiseyev indicated the proposal is currently being discussed with the Moscow Stock Exchange and the Bank of Russia, the country's central bank, and that it could soon be passed onto government.
"I hope that we will soon submit this concept to the government, and in case of support we will write a draft of normative acts," he said.
Notably, Moiseyev's statements have provoked commentary from Pavel Durov, the founder of the Telegram Messenger app and VKontakte, a popular social media site.
As reported by Sputniknews, Durov wrote on his VKontakte page that, with the arrival of bitcoin:
"For the first time in 70 years, the global financial system has a chance to escape from the hegemony of the U.S."
Yet, rather than allowing cryptocurrencies the chance to replace the dollar, "the Russian government is voicing ideas to ban and restrict [use of cryptocurrencies]," he said.
It seems this charge will only apply to civilians, though, and only if Moiseev's comments are adopted into financial regulations.
As such, Moiseev's remarks build on what has generally been the strict approach to cryptocurrency regulation favored by the Ministry of Finance, the country's top financial regulator. In contrast, the Bank of Russia has generally been more supportive of the technology, though it remains to be seen which side will win out.
The statements in this article have been translated from Russian.
Alexei Moiseev image via Shutterstock.com