The largest private bank in Russia has reportedly dropped its plans to work with cryptocurrency following repeated warnings from the country’s central bank.
According to a TASS report, Sberbank will no longer pursue its plans, which were originally unveiled to great fanfare, following the negative stance adopted towards cryptocurrencies by the Bank of Russia. The plans, first announced back in January 2018, would have seen Sberbank launching its own suite of cryptocurrency exchange services.
Sberbank Vice President Andrey Shemetov said the bank had been waiting for legislation to give the green light to providing crypto exchange services. Instead, Shemetov says the negative stance adopted by the central bank has led them to re-evaluate their intentions.
“Regarding cryptocurrency, we waited for legislation that allows you to trade cryptocurrency. Since the regulator is currently looking negative, we decided to suspend this cryptocurrency plan,” Shemetov said.
The decision follows as the latest twist in the development of cryptocurrency policy in Russia. Legislation designed to formalize the legal structures around the sector has been repeatedly delayed for further consultation.
Most recently, the legislation was deferred following concerns raised by the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, citing the wording in the bill.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had previously promised a crypto bill would be passed in the spring of 2019. Yet in line with Sberbank’s decision, there is no sign of the law being rushed through any time soon.
The country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev appeared to confirm that position when he said waning interest in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Core (BTC) made it less of a priority to pass the legislation.
The perpetual delays appear to have taken their toll on Sberbank, who had been waiting since early 2018 for clarifications in the law before launching their new service.
The bank confirmed it may still offer crypto services through a Switzerland-based subsidiary, although this is unlikely to be on the same scale as its original plans. The loss of the project will be a blow for investors in Russia who had been anticipating the launch. It remains to be seen whether the Russian legislature can get its act together before others change course with their crypto plans.