Russia Bans Bitcoin Exchanges, According to Central Bank

Russian authorities will block access to cryptocurrency exchanges, according to a top central bank official, a sign that regulatory attack on cryptocurrency was intensifying.

Russia Tightens the Noose Around Cryptocurrency Market

Russian Central Bank First Deputy Governor Sergei Shvetsov referred to cryptocurrency assets as “dubious instruments,” according to Reuters.

“We cannot stand apart. We cannot give direct and easy access to such dubious instruments for retail (investors),” Shvetsov said in reference to Russian households.

Though the ban seemingly came out of left field, Russian financial authorities deem illegal any sort of money issued by non-state institutions. Like other countries, Russia has expressed concern over cryptocurrency being to facilitate illegal activity, such as money laundering.

Shvestov also warned that cryptocurrencies were quickly transforming from a payment method to high-yielding assets.

Global Crackdown

Russia follows China and South Korea in restricting access to the cryptocurrency market. Last month, China moved to stamp out initial coin offerings (ICOs) before issuing a blanket ban on all cryptocurrency.

South Korea quickly followed suite by banning ICOs. Th crowdfunding model has surged in popularity this year, presenting new regulatory hurdles for industry watchdogs.

However, recent reports out of mainland China suggest regulatory authorities were considering lifting the blanket ban on exchanges. Xinhua reports that authorities are considering tighter regulation around the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies.

Many Chinese investors have since moved their trading accounts overseas to continue speculating in the cryptocurrency market. ICOs that were previously banned in China may seek re-issuance in Hong Kong or Singapore, among other jurisdictions.

News of a Russian ban had little impact on the markets Tuesday, with bitcoin continuing to trade well above $4,800.00.

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Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi