Majority state-owned lender Sberbank is preparing to allow Russian citizens to buy and sell digital assets. Private individuals will be provided access to its proprietary blockchain platform as early as this month, a top executive of the bank announced.
Russia’s Largest Bank to Allow Retail Investors to Trade Digital Assets
Retail investors will be able to transact with digital financial assets (DFAs) on the distributed ledger platform built by Sberbank by the end of the current quarter, according to the Deputy Chairman of the bank’s Board, Anatoly Popov.
“If we talk about individuals, then in the second quarter, in June, we believe this function will be open,” Popov said, quoted by the Tass news agency. They will have the opportunity to buy digital financial assets, sell them and exchange them for fiat, he detailed.
DFAs are a relatively new financial instrument for Russia which was regulated with the law “On Digital Financial Assets” in 2021. Unlike decentralized cryptocurrencies, they have an issuing entity and represent tokenized traditional assets such as gold, for example
The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) has already authorized several operators of DFA platforms such as the tokenization service Atomyze, the fintech company Lighthouse, Masterchain, and Alfa-Bank. Sberbank, which is Russia’s biggest bank by assets, was added to the regulator’s register in March 2022. Last week, the bank opened access to its in-house decentralized finance (defi) platform for developers.
Since it was licensed, Sberbank has issued DFAs for billions of rubles, Popov noted. In May, the CBR said it expects a significant growth in the Russian digital assets market. The forecast came after in a single month, April, seven DFA placements were made for a total of around 1 billion rubles ($13 million).
Russia has been taking steps to develop this regulated market but it’s yet to define the legal status of crypto assets like bitcoin. Several bills aiming to achieve that are now under review in parliament with sanctions pressures working in favor of legalizing crypto payments, at least in cross-border settlements, and regulating certain activities such as crypto mining.