Instead of creating legislation on cryptocurrencies, the Russian authorities took a different path. While draft documents on mining and crypto exchanges are gathering dust in the State Duma, law enforcement practice regarding ersatz digital assets, DFA, is emerging.
DFA and cryptocurrency
Regulation of blockchain technologies in Russia is quite peculiar. It stands out at least because the most fully regulated category of “digital financial assets” does not include cryptocurrencies, which are the main asset on the blockchain in terms of capitalization throughout the world.
The current federal law “On Digital Financial Assets and Digital Currency” separates the concepts of digital financial assets and digital currency itself (which means cryptocurrency). Only the CFA received detailed regulation, and there are only a couple of articles in the law about cryptocurrency. In general, the conclusion from the document is the following: DFA and cryptocurrencies are not the same thing; DFA is similar to cryptocurrencies only in the use of blockchain technology.
What are “digital financial assets”?
The law defines digital rights as digital rights, whose issuance, recording and circulation occurs by making entries in a distributed registry (in other words, blockchain). These rights may include:
the possibility of exercising rights under equity securities,
rights to participate in the capital of a non-public joint stock company,
the right to demand the transfer of issue-grade securities.
Of course, a DFA is simply an investment product that cannot be used to pay for goods and services. In general, we are usually talking about the implementation of familiar financial instruments, which are simplified and optimized by the blockchain.
Three agents can be distinguished in the digital financial market: the information system operator, the exchange operator and the user (investor).
The information system operator is responsible for ensuring the operation of the blockchain, admitting new users, and interacting with authorities and courts.. By law, it must be included in a special register (not to be confused with the blockchain, we are talking about the state register). There are currently only ten operators on this list, the last of which was added on August 3, 2023. The operators were mainly large banks (for example, Sberbank and Alfa-Bank) plus specialized organizations, the first and largest of which was Atomize, the volume of DFA issues of which exceeded 16 billion rubles. Also on the register is the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange.
The exchange operator ensures the conclusion of transactions with the DFA. This is a legal entity that the Central Bank included in its relevant register. Requirements from the Central Bank:
Russian legal entity,
authorized capital from 50 million rubles,
net assets from 50 million rubles,
requirements for the length of service and qualifications of members of governing bodies, the sole executive body and officials,
requirements for DFA exchange rules,
requirements for organizing internal control and risk management,
operational reliability requirements.
To date, only one exchange operator has been registered: the Moscow Exchange.
To invest in DFA, you must register on a resource associated with the operator. Further requirements for investors will depend on the rules of a particular platform. The status of a qualified investor is of great importance: more transactions will be opened with him and the limit of 600,000 rubles per year, provided for by the Central Bank, will disappear.
The Central Bank admits that the digital financial market is just beginning to emerge (the volume is estimated by the Bank of Russia at 62.1 billion rubles). But there are already proposals. Let's list some of the most famous ones.
In 2023, the Norilsk Nickel concern released DFA for its own employees. These assets involve, among other things, the payment of dividends to holders. That is, the company’s employees are direct beneficiaries of income – through an asset on the blockchain.
The Samolet group of companies has released a digital digital meter, the price of which is tied to the price per square meter in the company’s construction projects. That is, we are talking about investments using DFA in a specific property (apartment).
From what was expected: Atomize, in collaboration with Rosbank, launched hybrid rights to gold. The investor can choose, when redeeming the purchased DFA, a gold bar or its full value in money. In addition, DFAs for precious stones have already appeared.
The market for digital financial assets in Russia is developing as follows: the federal law has begun to work in full force, the first major players are gradually appearing on the market, the first practice of using digital financial assets in the legal field is emerging. However, this is done in a very limited number of cases, and all of them are directly sanctioned by the state. At the same time, the concepts of cryptocurrency and digital financial assets are legally differentiated, and cryptoassets remain a marginal business that is not formally recognized.
This material and the information contained herein do not constitute individual or other investment advice.. The opinion of the editors may not coincide with the opinions of the author, analytical portals and experts.