Russia’s biggest lender Sberbank has launched its own cryptocurrency-Sbercoin [SBER] in an effort to steer its struggling economy that has been badly beaten down by a host of sanctions since its war with Ukraine. The move reflects the nation’s struggle to meet dollar-denominated debt obligations,
In early March, trading in Sberbank came to a halt in London after its shares plummeted 95%, leading to its closure. But a few weeks later, on March 17, the Russian central bank allowed Sberbank a license to issue its own cryptocurrency, according to media reports. That led to the launch of sbercoin the same day.
The news of the launch was met with skepticism as one expert questioned the feasibility of the project. Asheesh Birla, general manager at blockchain-based payments service provider RippleNet said,
“It’s going to be super-problematic for them to get much traction here because they also need a liquid exchange that is going to take the Russian ruble.” Birla pointed out that while Sberbank can launch a cryptocurrency, it might not help move cash in and out of the country.
The idea for a Sberbank-issued cryptocurrency was first put forward in 2020 when the banking firm began experimenting with blockchain technology. Its CEO Herman Gref said at the time the bank could look at issuing sbercoin in 2021, a local news site reported.
Russia on a Panic Mode
The US and its allies worked together to ban Russia from using SWIFT, a global communications service that oversees international financial transactions, effectively shutting it out of international trade.
Following that the nation now demands payment in its currency the ruble for natural gas exports. Another Russian lawmaker has suggested buyers from countries friendly to Russia could pay in their own fiat currencies — or in bitcoin.
The sanctioned hit country has also begun looking out for safe havens elsewhere. In an earlier report by TronWeekly, several crypto exchanges have received a ton of requests from individuals based in Russia seeking protection for their fortunes. Some clients are reportedly resorting to investing in real estate in the UAE through crypto while others want to convert it into fiat and stash it elsewhere.