Over the past year, the rhetoric of Russian state officials regarding cryptocurrency and the underlying blockchain technology has changed dramatically: a few years ago, the Ministry of Finance threatened
to criminalize mining and speculation of cryptocurrency.
Now President Putin claims
that “without a digital economy, the country has no future,” Prime Minister Medvedev continually commends the
blockchain technology with a kind word, Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank Olga Skorobogatova talks
about the bank’s plans to create a crypto-ruble, and First Deputy Chairman of the Government Igor Shuvalov says
that Russia should be "bolder" to develop a digital economy.
We will definitely get to the virtual national currency, we have already begun to work on this.
- Olga Skorobogatov, Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank
However, there is still no official definition of cryptocurrency in the legislation, and discussions on how best to determine them should continue.
The Central Bank proposes to
consider cryptocurrency as a “digital commodity,” and the Ministry of Finance believes
that, according to the Civil Code, coriptocurrency is “other property,” as Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseyev said earlier. Among other things, the deputy minister suggests “in order to protect the rights of users of cryptocurrencies” to enter the identification of clients.
Now there are different, of course, legal concepts, but in principle there is a proposal that we are now considering, to define Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general as a different property, because if you call it money, then currency control and everything else, and it’s not clear why you need it, because it is not a foreign currency.
- Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev
The Ministry of Finance considers it necessary to introduce customer identification and accounting for all transactions, as well as provide for the protection of the rights of cryptocurrency buyers. The main points of control over the circulation of digital money should be the place of their purchase and cash out.
In addition, the concept of recognizing cryptocurrency as “currency value,” as defined
in the only official document containing any definition of this phenomenon - the letter of the Federal Tax Service dated October 03, 2016, is still being discussed.
However, what, then, awaits the mining industry in Russia? Probably, this will directly depend on the definition with which the authorities will award cryptocurrency.
The head of the group for the provision of legal services for technology projects at Deloitte CIS, Artem Tolkachev, believes that, based on forecasts and discussions of 2016 and the beginning of this year, it should be assumed that in 2017 there will be, if not a full-fledged law, then at least some regulatory regulations for cryptocurrency.
According to Artem, the tonality of official statements on this topic has recently changed, and at the moment we can say that there are interested people, activists who are ready to adopt the law. At the same time, if a law appears, it should, as a minimum, contain a definition of a new entity, which so far has no name in the legislation.
If cryptocurrencies in one form or another will be recognized as currency or currency value - will this not put an end to mining as a legitimate activity? After all, mining is essentially an issue, and only the central bank can issue currency.
Artem Tolkachev believes that if lawmakers apply the concept of currency or currency value, then the mining business, which in Russia, in his opinion, is not well developed, will quickly react to this and disappear from Russia in general, while other areas will develop more activities.
In turn, Elina Sidorenko, chairperson of the governmental working group on risk assessment of cryptocurrency, believes
that if the state qualified the cryptocurrency as a commodity, this specification would have several advantages.
We could regulate the mining, which today falls out of the field of legal regulation. It would be easier to carry out the calculation procedures and put this activity under the law on licensing. The introduction of a number of amendments, including tax legislation, would allow us to regulate the tax sphere - for example, exemption from VAT.
- Chairwoman of the Governmental Working Group on Cryptocurrencies Elina Sidorenko
According to her, such a program is already in effect in relation to some virtual goods (for example, the sale of additional force in computer games).
Thus, if cryptocurrencies are recognized as a commodity or property, the mining industry may well be qualified as a manufacturing sector.
At the same time, at the Bitcoin & Blockchain conference Moscow held on April 19 in Moscow, Sidorenko advanced the thesis that “one small law” cannot globally influence the situation, since there is no legal education, therefore, the integration of the law into the existing legal framework cause a lot of discrepancies.
According to her proposal, the process of cryptocurrency legalization should begin with the preparation of a professional legal community. As part of this concept, soon MGIMO will begin to prepare lawyers for the legal application and maintenance of blockchains and cryptocurrency initiatives. According to Sidorenko, a thorough regulation in this area will appear no earlier than in 5 years.And we don't care, our cloud mining is in Estonia: