Head of Russia’s Largest Bank Says No to Crypto Ban

The head of Sberbank, influential Russian banker and Bitcoiner Herman Gref, has reaffirmed his opposition to a ban of cryptocurrencies. Even though the Russian authorities stance on cryptocurrencies has warmed, the chief executive of Russia’s biggest bank has gone further in urging authorities to be patient with decentralized currencies. He even advocates waiting for the crypto ecosystem to mature before applying any regulation.

Russian authorities and financial officials should be tolerant of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, Russian news agency TASS quotes Sberbank CEO Herman Gref as stating. The banker went a step further, stressing that cryptocurrencies are yet to be understood and any regulation should be measured and considered, not reactionary.

Gref said:

“Before trying to regulate it, it is necessary to maintain a normal background around the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. It is necessary to explain to people that it does not store value, but right now is rather a very dangerous thing, like a lottery or a casino,”

He added:

“It [crypotocurrencies] should not be banned, as it is a great new technology in development, which no one is yet to comprehend.”

In mid-2016, amid the Russian finance ministry’s attempted to introduce a bitcoin ban bill that criminalized bitcoin adopters, Gref openly spoke of holding a small amount of bitcoin and opposing the bill. At the time, Russia’s finance ministry proposed a prison sentence up to 7 years for bitcoin adopters.

Gref said at the time, addressing an audience during an educational project between Sberbank and Google:

Later that year, Gref even revealed he was trading bitcoin with fiat, back and forth. “This is, of course, a great pleasure and a nice game but soon, it will be our whole life,”

A year ago, the banker predicted the advent of commercial blockchain applications in 2019. Sberbank, which recently opened an exclusive blockchain lab in the country, is notably a member of two of the biggest blockchain consortiums in the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance (EEA) and the Linux Foundation-led Hyperledger Project, two working groups working to leverage open-source blockchain technology in enterprise and commercial applications.