Russia is open to accepting bitcoin for its natural resources exports, the chairman of the country’s Congressional energy committee, Pavel Zavalny, said in a press conference on Thursday.
Zavalny explained that Russia is open to accepting different currencies for its exports, beginning with natural gas, depending on the buyer’s preferred method of payment. However, the chairman said terms will depend on the importing country’s foreign relations status with Russia.
“When it comes to our ‘friendly’ countries, like China or Turkey, which don’t pressure us, then we have been offering them for a while to switch payments to national currencies, like rubles and yuan,” Zavalny said during the press conference. “With Turkey, it can be lira and rubles. So there can be a variety of currencies, and that’s a standard practice. If they want bitcoin, we will trade in bitcoin.”
Zavalny’s statement comes on the heels of President Vladimir Putin’s comments on Wednesday demanding that ‘unfriendly’ countries pay for Russian gas in rubles. Putin’s message was clear, but it is unclear whether Russia can unilaterally change existing contracts agreed upon in euros.
The State Duma’s energy committee chair echoed Putin’s decision while adding that the country should also accept gold.
“When we exchange with Western countries…they should pay in hard money,” Zavalny said. “And hard money is gold, or they must pay in currencies which are convenient for us, and that is the national currency – ruble. That relates to our ‘unfriendly’ countries.”
Russia being open to accepting bitcoin shift the tide as Putin last year had dismissed the possibility in an interview at the Russian Energy Week event in Moscow.
“I believe that it has value,” Putin said at the time, referring to Bitcoin. “But I don’t believe it can be used in the oil trade.”
The current size of the Bitcoin market and its liquidity do pose questions as to whether the peer-to-peer currency could be used widely by countries in international trade at this moment.
However, by being open to the possibility and eventually conducting pilot trades with interested parties, Russia could set the stage for an upcoming trend where nations choose to transact in the stateless, global monetary system.