The Russian central bank has granted Sberbank, the country’s largest retail bank, a license to issue digital assets. Sberbank had applied for the license in January to issue its own digital token for corporate clients.
It should be noted that the Bank of Russia had been pursuing a ban on cryptocurrencies in the country. But Russian banks are now turning to “new opportunities” to over the impact of sanctions amid the Ukraine war.
Sberbank and Lighthouse were listed on the central bank’s register for the issuing of digital assets and exchanging them on their platforms. Atomyze Russia, a blockchain platform, was the first firm to get the go-ahead to exchange digital assets legally in early February. Sberbank considers that blockchain technology would guarantee the safety of transactions.
The retail bank will allow companies to issue their own digital assets. They can also purchase other cryptocurrencies within the bank’s system. German Gref, the CEO of Sberbank, in 2020 had said that it would partner with JP Morgan to prepare its own cryptocurrency. The bank was actively preparing to launch its Sbercoin in February, before the Ukraine invasion and the ensuing sanctions.
But now Russia has been struck by Western sanctions to pressurize the Kremlin to back off of Ukraine. The Ukrainian invasion resulted in Sberbank’s shares dropping up to 74% – the biggest slump the bank has ever recorded. There are also rumors that JP Morgan may walk out of the partnership.