Russia passes bill allowing financial services operators to get deeper into digital assets
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(Kitco News) - The Russian State Duma has passed a bill that will allow financial service marketplaces to combine their operations with blockchain platforms that issue or exchange digital financial assets (DFA), and also to act as purchasers of their own securities, according to an Interfax report.
Bill No. 221502-8 was submitted to the Russian parliament for consideration on Oct. 26, 2022 by a group of deputies headed by Anatoly Aksakov, head of the financial market committee, and senator Nikolai Zhuravlev.
Under Russia's 2020 law, "On conducting financial transactions using financial platforms", operators of financial marketplaces cannot perform the activities of a credit institution, with few exceptions.
The passage of this bill adds some new exceptions which will enable financial service marketplaces greater participation in DFAs.
“The bill expands the list of the types of activities accessible to operators of financial platforms with the activities of an operator of an information system in which DFA are issued and the activities of a DFA exchange operator,” the explanatory notes of the bill state. “This innovation will facilitate the establishment of new business models on the financial market based on the digital transformation of financial services.”
There are currently seven organizations in the Central Bank or Russia’s (CBR) registry of authorized financial platform operators: The Moscow Exchange platform finuslugi.ru, VTB Registrar, Infinitum, Sravni.ru, Open Financial Marketplace, Open Digital Solutions, and Digital Technologies.
The CBR’s registry of information systems operators authorized to issue DFAs includes four companies: Atomyze, which is partly owned by billionaire Vladimir Potanin's Interros, Sberbank, Lighthouse, a fintech company currently developing a digital financial ecosystem with Transmashholding, and Alfa Bank's A-Token.
The bill also enables issuers of securities and persons acting on their behalf to act as buyers for the purposes of managing digital marketplaces. Until now, only consumers of financial services could act as buyers of securities.
“[The current law] makes it impossible for issuers of bonds, the decision to issue which provides for the right of the owner of bonds to present them for redemption before their maturity, to carry out such operations with their bonds through the financial platform," the explanatory note reads.
The third change enacted by the bill enables unqualified investors to buy government securities from a person or institution regulated by the Russian state without needing to have their qualifications tested and approved.
Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia, announced in December that its updated platform is now technologically compatible with Ethereum, the world's largest decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem, which will enable developers to freely transfer smart contracts and entire projects between the bank's blockchain network and open blockchain networks.