Bitcoin (BTC) and crypto miners in Russia are using more energy than the nation’s agricultural sector, says the Ministry of Industry and Trade – while MPs are set to vote on a bill that would allow international traders to pay for goods in crypto or accept payments made in cryptoassets.
Per Vedomosti, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Vasily Shpak claimed that over 2% of all the electricity consumed in Russia is now being used to power crypto mining rigs.
Shpak, who was speaking at an event operated by the ruling United Russia Party, stated that miners were spending more than farmers on electricity, and added:
“As such, we cannot do anything else except recognize mining as a form of industry. […] Our position is absolutely unambiguous: Mining must be recognized, regulated, and classified as industrial activity.”
The ministry has been insistent on recognizing, legalizing, and taxing crypto mining for months – and favors a system whereby miners would be forced to register with a central governing body.
Industrial miners are also keen to see such a system introduced, but the Central Bank remains a massive stumbling block. The bank wants instead to ban crypto mining – and all forms of crypto trading and ownership in Russia.
Meanwhile, the same media outlet claims that it has obtained a copy of the most-recently updated bill on crypto regulation proposed by the Ministry of Finance. The bill was first formulated back in February, since when a number of parties – including other ministries – have had their say on the draft legislation.
MPs have previously vowed that the bill will pass through the State Duma before the end of the current (Spring) session. With MPs set to leave the chamber on August 2, the ministry faces a race against time if it wishes to pull this off.
But the updated bill, Vedomosti claimed, contains interesting reading for international traders – who, per a newly inserted clause – would be allowed to accept crypto payments, or pay for goods and services using cryptoassets.
Providing certain transparency conditions are met, the terms of the bill reportedly allow both “legal entities and individual entrepreneurs” to “pay foreign trade contracts,” for “goods, work, services, intellectual activity, and so on” using crypto.
The ministry, the report noted, had been thinking of creating a separate bill on crypto pay in international trade, with a view of introducing it in 2023, but the current “geopolitical situation” had forced it to reconsider. Instead, the media outlet reported, it has decided to include the proposal as a new clause in the draft law.
The proposal allegedly has the support of the Ministry of Economic Development, which also wants to fast-track the legislation.
The news agency Interfax further reported that Ivan Chebeskov, the Director of the Financial Policy Department at the Ministry of Finance, had told United Russia Party officials at the aforementioned event:
“The issue of using digital currencies in barter transactions for international settlements is being actively discussed. If a digital currency is recognized as a form of property, in principle, within the framework of a barter transaction involving a digital currency, it will be possible to carry out foreign economic operations.”
Chebeskov stated that the “topic” was “being discussed” and “deserves attention,” due to the fact that Russia has “limited possibilities for settlements in the classical, traditional payment ecosystem.”