Russian President Vladimir Putin has weighed in on the bitcoin debate. Although there will eventually be a need to legislate cryptocurrencies, he said any risks taken by investors now are their own responsibility.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, President Putin said the Central Bank of Russia’s (CBR) cautious approach to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin is because there is nothing to guarantee their value.
“In general, of course, in the future there will certainly need to be legislative regulation. The Central Bank has already repeatedly formulated its attitude to this case, just as the government has.
“The CBR behaves conservatively, but, in my opinion, there are grounds for this conservatism, because it is known that there is nothing behind cryptocurrency, it cannot be a means of accumulation, it has no material value behind it and it is in no way secured,” he said.
“In certain situations it can be a way of paying that can be done quickly and efficiently. You can pay, but there are no savings and no guarantee, so the Central Bank approaches this very carefully. The fluctuations are colossal: today you invested everything, and tomorrow everything is lost.
“If we regulate, but not efficiently enough, then the government will be responsible for the difficult situations that people can get into. Right now it is the responsibility of the person himself and the government can only say ‘you can do this but you can’t do that,’ and if it’s still not clear then there will be some problems that need to be solved.”
Opinion on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies remains divided, with some financial experts believing it is a worthy investment, as the price fluctuations and its meteoric rise in value will eventually even out, while others consider it a bubble that will burst sooner or later.
The Russian government is currently mulling over how to best regulate cryptocurrencies, with Deputy Finance Minister Aleksey Moiseev suggesting in December that mining bitcoin and other forms of online money would be illegal, but buying them or trading them would remain within the law.