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Watch Out Bitcoin — Qiwi Eyes New Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin might soon face competition from a new emerging cryptocurrency, which is stirring up the Russian government into adopting new laws.

A first of its kind, originating from Russia, cryptocurrency bitruble is being developed by Russian payments system company Qiwi, which reportedly claims to have the most number of payments terminals around the world, according to Russian daily Kommersant.

While Qiwi CEO Sergei Solonin is working on raising money and building up technology, which is expected to launch in 2016, the local authorities are scrambling to get a grip over the situation.

Currently, only the Russian Central Bank has the authority to inject rubles in the country. “That is why they cannot launch the cryptocurrency without the regulator’s permit,” Stanislav Grigoryev, an advisor at Herbert Smith Freehills, told Kommersant.

However, Solonin is persistent and believes that it’s time the country opens up to cryptocurrencies. “One more discussion of the topic with the central bank is arranged for the coming days. Besides, we submitted a letter with a description of the project to law enforcement entities,” he said. Dates of the cryptocurrency launch will depend on the regulator, he added.

But the Russian Central Bank is apprehensive and believes that the introduction of the currency might result in a spike of cybercrime and illegal activities. The regulator’s chairwoman, Elvira Nabiullina, on multiple occasions said that cyrptocurrencies are very likely to be used for illegal purposes and that the bank was taking a deep look at it and would supervise the situation closely.

So for now, Qiwi is focusing on aligning its business model as close to the Russian laws as it can. “For example, we are working at the creation of a system of identification of cryptocurrency users,” Solonin said.

Despite the common fear and recognition of the distribution of cryptocurrencies as a criminal offense, many are hopeful to see a change in laws to accommodate cryptocurrencies. “I think that such efforts will continue, and in my view, it’s pointless to impede their implementation. The scientific and technical progress evolves, and obviously, an intention to use new payment tools will constantly appear along with the development of technologies,” said Anatoly Aksakov, chairman of the economic policy committee at the State Duma. “I think that the Central Bank should study this practice very attentively and, if necessary, offer ways to govern and use such tools either via a law or regulations.”

“These new tools could be more effective. The Internet commerce, for example, is actively developing all around the globe. Limitations, which exist in our country, often slow down the expansion of commerce, which is known to be a stimulant to progress,” Aksakov added.

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