As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, several sanctions have been imposed, cutting off the country from the majority of its foreign currency reserves and the global financial system. Despite all this, Russia’s largest bank has announced plans to launch a cryptocurrency.
During the Russian invasion, trading in Sberbank shares was halted in London just days after they dropped 95%. As sanctions damaged the Russian economy, the lender had to shut down its European operations. Media sources cite the Russian central bank as allowing Sberbank to produce its cryptocurrency on March 17 just two weeks later.
Since then, there have been speculations about sbercoin becoming a discreet way of exchanging rubles for other currencies and circumventing restrictions. The sanctions caused the ruble to plummet and prompted Moscow to enact capital controls. In an effort to protect their foreign exchange holdings, the Russians developed an underground dollar and euro market.
The Sberbank CEO Herman Gref suggested at the time that the bank might launch sbercoins in 2021, according to a local news site.
According to the bank’s vice chairman, the Russian Central Bank intends to register its blockchain ambitions with Sberbank this September. Despite that, it hasn’t said anything about its cryptocurrency plans since then, nor has it responded to an Insider request for comment. Since the invasion, the volume of Russian rouble-to-crypto exchanged has been declining. However, it has jumped over 900 percent to $70 million in five days – the highest amount since May 2021.
A Chainalysis research study from 2021 revealed that Russia ranked first for crypto adoption. Since ruble-denominated crypto-trading may not always be intended to circumvent sanctions, large amounts of it may not be indicative of sanctions-evasion.