The largest bank in Russia, the state-owned Sberbank, has reportedly announced its plans to bypass the Russian cryptocurrency regulations and offer crypto trading to customers overseas. The bank is looking at trading pairs of the most liquid and well-known cryptocurrencies.
Bypassing Russian Regulations
At a news briefing on Tuesday, Sberbank’s Head of Global Markets Andrey Shemetov said that the bank “plans to start trading cryptocurrencies outside Russia in order to avoid violating domestic rules,” Reuters reported. Sberbank is the largest bank in Russia and third largest in Europe. It is majority-owned by the Russian government.
According to Shemetov, “Russian laws bar Sberbank from trading cryptocurrencies.” However, “the state-controlled bank wants to be able to serve clients in what is a popular market for some investors,” the news outlet explained. “That’s why we think that we need to have a strategic access to these products,” he told reporters. Tass then quoted him emphasizing:
In Russia, we cannot trade [cryptocurrency], but we want to satisfy the interests of clients, and we believe that we must have access to a wide range of products.
The Russian finance ministry recently published the draft law on the regulation of digital assets in Russia including cryptocurrencies. This bill is expected to enter into force in September.
The Swiss Operation
Sberbank’s solution for crypto trading is its branch in Switzerland called Sberbank (Switzerland) AG, headquartered in Zurich. Shemetov revealed that the bank’s Swiss subsidiary is creating “an infrastructure for trading in cryptocurrencies,” Tass reported. He clarified, “We completely build the trading infrastructure so that we can open our own positions and give customers service, that is, buy and sell for clients,” reiterating:
Swiss laws allow cryptocurrency trading, and we are working on infrastructure to start offering these services through our Swiss subsidiary.
Initially, “The product will be available only to legal entities,” Ria Novosti detailed. Shemetov noted, “The product is very risky, the volatility is very high, so we will not provide these services to a large number of customers,” adding:
We are looking at all of the cryptocurrency pairs that are the most liquid, [and] their names are known. We will see what’s interesting to the clients, where is some liquidity…Obviously, we will not go into a low-liquidity crypto.
In November of last year, Sberbank bought up a lot of graphics cards that can be used for cryptocurrency mining, causing a shortage of these products on the Russian market. The bank said at the time that these cards were for its “laboratory of artificial intelligence.”
The president and chairman of the board of Sberbank, Herman Gref, said earlier this month at the annual Gaidar forum, as reported by local media, “Cryptocurrencies cannot be banned, it’s a wonderful new technology which has not yet been fully captured and studied.”