Russian police confiscated 22 crypto ATMs, owned by Bbfpro. These crypto selling machines were installed at restaurants and stores in 9 Russian cities. The confiscation was based upon the Central bank orders
Great move for the country with the stagnant economy, that is struggling under heavy sanctions. Instead of embracing crypto, why not strangle it?
The logic here is pretty obvious — for Russian Central bank all cryptocurrencies look like another route for capital flight. People don't want to keep their money in Russia — people buy crypto and send it abroad. The only thing that the Central bank doesn't take into equations is that people that have enough capital to move it out of country, can do it without any restrictions. The total outflow of capital from Russia in 2018 is $17.3 billion. That's too much for Bitcoin, and this money isn't the ordinary pillow savings, rather it's the capital of ultra-wealthy Russians.
Thus confiscating Bitcoin ATMs won't solve this problem, but it gives a clear signal to all crypto business: you're not welcomed in Russia. Would Russia lose anything by allowing crypto activity on its territory? Or does it have anything to lose at all? The influx of new foreign capital to its economy is low. The country should look for new ways to attract capital to its economy, develop new sectors, otherwise it will be left behind, being only the exporter of resources, like gas and oil. Russia should try to get every single dollar available for its economy by showing its friendliness to investors and businesses.
Let's see how some other countries benefit by embracing or banning crypto.
This country has a mixed stance towards crypto — paying with crypto, buying something with crypto isn’t prohibited. There was even one instance of a bail set in cryptocurrency by a judge. You can set a shop there and sell your goods for crypto only — absolute freedom. There is another story with ICOs. Only registered ICOs are allowed, thus many crypto startups don’t accept investments from US citizens to evade problems with US law. But the general openness of US market attracts many fintech companies, as they know that there won’t be any problems if they act honestly. And by the way, there are more than 2,000 crypto ATMs installed on its territory.
Malta is becoming a paradise island for crypto and blockchain startups, ICOs and exchanges. The government of Malta, its Prime Minister and Finance Minister, seem excited about the possibilities that are open to Malta after embracing blockchain. Even Binance moved to Malta after being extorted by regulations from Japan — and that means that Binance will pay taxes. The tax rate in Malta is 5%, Binance raked $200 million in profits recently, that’s $10 million of taxes for Malta. And that’s only one company! Looks like Malta will get its piece of pie from emerging industry.
Iran has even more harsh sanctions imposed on it, than Russia. Its economy is falling hard, because it’s oil-dependent. Iranian citizens buy a lot of Bitcoin recently in the attempt to save their money from inflation. The Iranian government has a negative stance toward crypto, because it withdraws money from its economy. However, the government wants to issue its own crypto and use it in international trade, so we can call it ambiguous stance, and it looks like it won’t lead to any significant improvement of their economy.
Thai government also doesn’t allow any newcomer conduct his ICO right away in its jurisdiction, but also it has a clear set of rules for those willing to operate or start an ICO on its territory. By following the law, showing its business plan, and allowing an audit of its activity, any company can start an Initial Coin Offering in Thailand. Also, the use of cryptocurrencies isn’t restricted at all, it also has crypto ATMs.
Taiwan isn’t restricting anything in its country, its official stance is “neutral”, its government decided that it shouldn’t miss this opportunity. Thus it attracts startups to Taiwan, creating new jobs and benefiting its economy.
All in all
Okay, we looked at some examples. The pattern is clear: you show your benevolence, you get money. If you don’t need them, you decide. So the question is: does Russia wants to be more like the USA, Malta, and Thailand or like Iran?
The question is still open.