by Kenneth Rapoza, Forbes:
Got Bitcoin? You can soon trade digital currencies against paper currency on the Moscow Stock Exchange. If you're a qualified investor, that is. In doing so, Russia would be the first stock exchange to make crypto-currency a new investable asset. They're not there yet. But wheels are in motion at the chief regulator of the Russian stock exchange.
Russia's Deputy Minister of Finance, Alexei Moiseyev, told Rossiya 24 on Tuesday that the exchange regulator will only allow for qualified investors to trade in crypto-currency in order to avoid large money laundering operations. Qualified investors in Russia need to have at least six million rubles in personal assets or 200 million rubles for investment firms.
"We really need to be able to track deals and transactions in these currencies," Moiseyev told Kommersant.
Not that putting it up on the exchange would stop Russian money laundering or payment for illegal services in digital money. But the move in Russia this week indicates that the country is going full steam ahead in adopting block chain technologies to build up its know-how and national usage of digital money. Tuesday's announcement by the Finance Ministry official marked a significant change in the views of Russian regulators from just a year ago.
"Recognizing the extraordinary popularity of crypto-currencies among Russian users, some of the Russian regulators are lobbying a permissive rather than a prohibitive approach to the new technology," says Anar Babaev, co-founder of ICOBox in Moscow. "They are cautiously moving towards adopting new laws to embrace blockchain and make it a national priority," he says. ICOBox helps companies with standardized tools for conducting the ICO process, which is like the IPO of the crypto-currency and the blockchain developers world.
Everyone is trying to get their heads around how this works, and where to install the sprinkler systems in case this bitcoin-inspired party ends in a blazing inferno.
Russia has gone from total rejection and strict enforcement policy against the issuance and circulation of crypto currency, to moving towards legalization of them with its admission to the city's central trading floor. Russia's exchange is small, trading under a trillion dollars daily and making it the smallest of the BRIC exchanges.
Russians are some of the most savvy crypto-currency developers worldwide. Vitalik Buterin, a Russian born programmer who was educated at the University of Waterloo, BlackBerry's home turf, created Ethereum, a two-year old block chain-based computing platform that has its own digital currency called ether. That and bitcoin are the two biggest digital currencies in Russia.