Russia’s Sberbank to buy, sell crypto-currency via Swiss subsidiary

By Andrei Skvarsky.

Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, is making arrangements to launch trade in crypto-currency via its Swiss subsidiary before mid-2018, a senior banker said on January 30.

Swiss law allows trade in crypto-currencies while Russia has no legal framework for any operations with digital money, Andrey Shemetov, head of global markets at Sberbank CIB, the Russian bank’s investment arm, explained at a briefing in Moscow.

“We want to keep our clients happy, and so we believe we should have strategic access to any kind of service and any product,” he said. “We are building a full-scale trading set-up so that we’re able to … open our own positions and provide client services, in other words to buy and sell.”

Because of the high volatility of crypto money, Sberbank’s crypto-currency trade will be a service only available to legal entities and will not be accessible to individuals, Shemetov said.

He said liquidity would be Sberbank’s main criterion in choosing which of the about 1,500 crypto-currencies to choose for trade.

Shemetov told EmergingMarkets.me that Sberbank’s Swiss-based crypto-currency trade was planned to start “in the first or second quarter – some time during the first half of the year anyway”.

On January 25, Russia’s Finance Ministry published a contradictory draft law that would allow and regulate transactions with the use of crypto-currencies but, on the other hand, would reaffirm the status of the rouble as “the sole legal tender” within the country.

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