“Financial surrogates are prohibited [in Russia] anyway. I’d like to clarify that we don’t prohibit crypto-technology, we’re studying it, but there is, nonetheless, a big difference between crypto-currency and crypto-technology.”
“We understand that there are risks because it’s no secret that these currencies can be used very easily for shady operations,” she added.
The chief executive of the Russian Qiwi payment service provider, Sergei Solonin, told the Kommersant daily this week that his company was developing a new "bitruble" crypto-currency in hopes of entering it into circulation next year.
The Russian Central Bank must approve any form of currency in the country. Solonin said Qiwi had held informal meetings with bank officials.
Nabiullina acknowledged the convenience and accessibility of digital currencies, vowing to monitor and regulate the market, echoing Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev’s words on Wednesday. Moiseev called on lawmakers to adopt a cautious approach toward digital currencies in view of risks associated with money laundering.
Over $3.8 billion worth of bitcoins, the most successful digital currency to date, were in circulation worldwide as of January.
Unlike traditional currencies, which are backed by a central bank or commodity, bitcoin has no central authority and is not tied to any government, but is "regulated" by users of the currency system. Money laundering, theft and black market usage are risks known to be associated with bitcoin.