One of the largest banks in Russia, Sberbank, with a workforce of 300,000 people and half a trillion dollars in assets, has its sights on bitcoin.
Head of Sberbank, German Gref, has high hopes for bitcoin. Gref served as the Russian Minister of Economic and Trade between 2000 and 2007. His time during the position brought about economic ease.
Sberbank is owned by the Central Bank of Russia.
Gref’s support for bitcoin dates back to last December, where he stated, “It’s a very interesting global experiment that breaks the paradigm of currency issuance.”
Government circles were well aware of his opinion, as Gref sent letters to the central bank and financial ministry. According to Bloomberg, he asked officials to intervene with parliament so that digital currencies wouldn’t be banned. Gref said that a ban on digital currency could be a “colossal mistake”. He says:
“It definitely shouldn’t be banned, it must be studied and maybe regulated properly”.
Critics feel quite differently on the issue. Well known for his dislike of bitcoin, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon told Davos reporters that bitcoin’s success will lead to governments treating it the same as most other payment methods. Bitcoin’s purpose is to keep anonymity for users.
In addition, CEO of VTB Group Anrei Kostin has a different opinion of bitcoin then that of Gref. His view on digital currency is that they are “quite dangerous.” He and his group don’t plan on becoming involved with bitcoin or other digital currencies:
“Our monetary authorities are only now formulating their opinion about this.”
Just a week ago, the Russian parliament introduced a series of amendments causing fear in the bitcoin community. Many feared it was a bitcoin ban, but they soon found out that they misunderstood. Regulators in Russia continue to keep an eye on bitcoin.
According to Bloomberg, the President of the Russian Electronic Money Association Viktor Dostov said that he is still unsure how bitcoin will be regulated. For now, his thought on the matter is to transfer bitcoin into fiat currency.
German Gref’s positive take on bitcoin may one day convince other banks to adopt the use of digital money.
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