The world of initial coin offerings (ICOs) is decidedly Russian, and now the country’s largest stock exchange operator is getting ready to roll out the first infrastructure for displaying ICO market data, and maybe even ICO futures contracts.
Earlier this week, Alexander Afanasiev, chief executive of the Moscow Stock Exchange (MOEX), announced that the basic infrastructure for publishing ICO information for investors would be unveiled this year, allowing companies to display their tokens and offerings, but not list tokens themselves on the exchange.
“We’re treating them as we treat fiat currencies so far because cryptocurrencies don’t have a status of legally protected assets now, but if it changes we will place them in our system as well,” Afanasiev said, as reported by Coindesk.
And even futures contracts for ICOs aren’t out of the question. In fact, Afanasiev said the exchange was “working on a possible structure of such futures now”, so if demand is there, so is the possibility.
Moscow is following a cautionary path with regard to cryptocurrencies, but following China’s lead this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on national TV that the country could use blockchain—the digital ledger technology that underpins cryptocurrencies—in order to “avoid various limitations in global finance trade” (or, a good way to skirt sanctions).
In May, the Russian State Duma approved the first reading of two crypto/blockchain-related bills which could legalize digital financial assets and ICO procedures, cryptocurrencies as a form of payment are still illegal.
And the timing of the Moscow Stock Exchange’s announcement isn’t random. Later this summer, the Bank of Russia is scheduled to host an ICO test program with the country’s biggest bank, Sberbank, and the national securities depository.
“Our end goal is to create the fundamental basis for the development of the digital economy in our country, for the emergence of a new type of asset for investors, for ICO ecosystems, and for the circulation of digital assets on the secondary market,” CCN cited NSD chairman Eddie Astanin as stating. “In conjunction with market leaders, we are implementing a project to create infrastructure to record digital assets.”
Sberbank CIB head Igor Bulantsev went as far as to say that he considers the Russian ICO market to be “highly promising,” and that many of the bank’s clients “are interested in this new way of fundraising,” CoinTelegraph reported.
Where Moscow itself remains cautious, Russian programmers and businessmen are less so, and they are increasingly popping up as the leaders in ICOs. Related: Tesla's Roadster May Have A Rocket-Powered "SpaceX Package"
According to Quartz, while it’s easy to look at the amount of ICO money raised and have it point to the U.S., Singapore, Switzerland or the UK, if you dig a little deeper, you’re bound to find some Russian origin.
Russia is the golden land of programmers, mathematicians and cryptographers thanks to the science-heavy legacy of Soviet education.
The country is bursting at the seams with “some of the best intellectual capital in the world”, Quartz cited digital lender Tinkoff Bank Chairman Oliver Hughes as saying, adding that even giant Sberbank acts likes it’s a fintech company.
ICOs have so far raised $9.1 billion in the year-to-date, more than the $6.6 billion they netted in the whole of 2017.
By Michael Kern for conil.me
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