Russia’s largest bank Sberbank announced late in January that it is planning to open a crypto-currency exchange in its Swiss branch, Sberbank Switzerland AG, the bank’s Vice-President Andrey Shemetov told Russian state media outlet RBC.
“We want to serve our customers’ interests, that’s why we think we need to have strategic access to all kinds of products and services,” said Shemetov when explaining Sberbank’s reasoning behind the choice of Switzerland as the site of the bank’s first crypto-currency exchange.
According to the RBC report, Sberbank Switzerland AG will not provide crypto-currency services to retail investors and has yet to set a date for the official launch of the exchange.
The move comes just over a month after the state-run bank’s head German Gref declared crypto-currencies and Blockchain “major new technologies that cannot be fully understood for the time being”.
Moscow appears to have moved quickly into the market of cryptocurrencies and cryptography. Gref earlier warned that companies including Blockchain and Bitcoin should not be banned or hindered in their operations.
Russia’s Finance Ministry legalised cryptocurrency trading on January 25 with the Digital Assets Regulation Bill, despite vocal objections from the country’s Central Bank. The bill defined cryptocurrencies and tokens as digital financial assets that are not legal tender in Russia. The Central Bank, however, argued that digital currency trading rules should only be applied to tokens that would attract financial investments.
The Bill also stated that cryptocurrencies can be exchanged for other cryptocurrencies, rubles and foreign currency through authorised exchange operators.