The Bank of Russia has backed a potential ban on cryptocurrency payments.

When asked by state-operated news agency RIA, the central bank offered the opinion that "private cryptocurrencies cannot be equated with fiat money and cannot be legal tender."

"If it is decided to ban cryptocurrencies as a means of payment at the legislative level, we consider it appropriate to support this position,” the banking authority said.

Legislation clarifying the legal status of cryptocurrencies, including mining and token sales, was reported to be passing through the State Duma by the end of the last summer session, but has seen delays. Two of three planned bills were passed in 2018, however, one regarding digital rights and the other covering crowdfunding, RIA says.

The Bank of Russia justified its support of a possible ban, saying:

"We continue to believe that cryptocurrencies carry significant risks, including in the field of laundering of proceeds from crime and financing of terrorism, as well as in conducting exchange transactions due to sharp exchange rate fluctuations."

Recently, the institution's chairperson, Elvira Nabiullina, said that, after research, the bank sees no strong reason to launch a national cryptocurrency that would override the potential risks.

Nabiullina has also warned of the risks of crypto investment, compared it with gambling at a casino, according to RIA. In October, she said, "“There is a worldly wisdom that free cheese is only in a mousetrap: easily earned money quickly leaves."

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