On January 17, Herman Gref, the CEO of the state-owned Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia, voiced his hope that cryptocurrencies will not be banned in the country.
Gref has appeared enthusiastic about virtual currencies and their underlying blockchain technology in the past, predicting that Russia would see "implementation" of the tech in eight to ten years and calling digital assets "a fact of our life" in November 2017. Sberbank also announced the pilot for a blockchain-based payment system that same month.
In his most recent comments, the CEO acknowledged that there are risks inherent in cryptocurrency investment but said that he hopes Russians will nonetheless be allowed access to the technology, considering its transformational potential:
"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. It should not be banned, as it is a great new technology in development, which no one is yet able to comprehend."
In October 2017, Russian president Vladimir Putin instructed members of his government to prepare legislation regulating cryptocurrencies, which Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev recently projected would be ready by the end of February 2018.