Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has revealed his opinion on the potential usage of digital currencies for the first time, while speaking in an educational forum broadcast on Russia 24 on Tuesday.
The President noted that although there are still some problems with cryptocurrencies, they could be used in Russia in the near future. According to Putin, the main issue with virtual currencies is that they are “not really tied to anything and are in no way guaranteed.”
“As an accounting unit, these ‘coins’ or whatever are they called, they can be used, and their adoption becomes wider and wider. As some kind of unit in some account, probably, it’s possible,” Putin said.
“People in the Russian Central Bank have a very professional position [on digital currencies]. We do not reject it. Yet there are serious and real problems with its acceptance, at least today,” he continued.
The comments that “coins” could be utilized in different payment segments were quickly interpreted by the media that Putin supports bitcoin. However, press spokesman for Russian President, Dmitry Peskov, has made a statement that his words should not be taken as a specific support of bitcoin. Instead, Peskov said, the President spoke about virtual payments as a whole.
The views of authorities in Russia on the use of digital currencies are still negative. In 2014, the Bank of Russia made a statement that all types of dealing with cryptocurrencies, including mining, issuing, trading and exchange) are prohibited in the country.
According to the authorities, the decentralized character and anonymity of bitcoin makes it perfect payment method for criminals, who can use it for buying illicit goods or financing terrorism. Moreover, taking into account its high fluctuation, the ban would prevent users from losing their money.
Following the ban, the Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications blocked five bitcoin-related websites, including bitcoin.org, in January.
Last month, Elvira Nabiullina, Chairman of the Russian Central Bank, said that the Bank of Russia recognizes the benefits of digital currencies for its users, but understands there are a lot of risks related to the adoption of bitcoin.
In November 2014, the government of Russia softened its position on bitcoin by cutting fines for dealing with digital currencies from $1,314 to $1,050.
For many bitcoin supporters, Putin’s statement was a positive sign. Despite the fact that he did not give concrete comments on the government’s opinion on using the digital currency, he appeared to be optimistic about the future application of the blockchain.