Russian authorities have restricted the transfer and export of currency abroad, but the legislation does not prohibit the transfer of funds in digital assets. Experts explained how to properly send money in digital currencies
On March 10, the Visa and Mastercard payment systems suspended operations in Russia. Since then, all transactions by cards of these systems are not available outside the country. This decision was announced a few days before the actual suspension. All Russians staying abroad were advised to withdraw sufficient cash.
According to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), as of March 15 about 25 thousand tourists could have stayed abroad. And after the start of a special operation in Ukraine, some Russians began to leave the country for purposes other than vacations. At the same time, Russian authorities have imposed restrictions on the transfer and export of currency abroad, as well as the ability to withdraw it in the country.
Cryptocurrencies have become one of the options for transferring funds in the current circumstances. This is legal because the Law on Digital Financial Assets prohibits Russian residents only to accept cryptocurrency as payment for goods, works or services. He added that there is no prohibition on transferring cryptocurrency from the wallet of a Russian user to the wallet of a user from another state in the Russian legislation.
“There are also no restrictions on such a transfer in the legislation on currency regulation, because cryptocurrency does not fall under the definition of currency values.”
On March 17, the Central Bank instructed banks to tighten control over clients so that they do not circumvent restrictions on currency transactions imposed due to sanctions. In particular, the regulator advised to pay attention to transactions aimed at the withdrawal of funds abroad or the purchase and sale of cryptocurrency.
“All of these measures mean delays in processing the transaction, explanations with the bank, and even refusal of the transaction, but are not a ban on cryptocurrency transactions as such.”
At the moment, there are no restrictions on sending cryptocurrency abroad or receiving it in Russia, as the turnover of digital assets is now in a gray zone. According to him, there is no linkage of public addresses to countries or IP owners, and it is possible to say that a purse belongs to a Russian citizen only within the AML (anti-money laundering) investigation. The expert clarified that if we are talking about a cryptocurrency exchange, in case of verification of the user it is clear to which region the account belongs.
Operations on buying and selling cryptocurrencies are not prohibited by the current legislation, agreed Nikita Zuborev, senior analyst at Bestchange.ru. He reminded that all regulations under development are at the stage of bills or have not gone beyond verbal interventions at all.
Major crypto exchanges stopped supporting direct deposits from a bank card because of technical limitations on the part of international payment systems, Zuborev pointed out. But if the user managed to deposit money to the exchange by other means, further transactions will take place in the standard mode, without any changes.
As for the mechanism of purchase on the OTC market, there are formally two separate operations: the transfer from card to card or from card to payment gateway (analog of the payment in the online store), and then the transfer of the cryptocurrency from purse to purse. Separately, these two operations are also not illegal, including the purchase process itself is not yet regulated by law, so it can not be recognized as something illegal, the expert added.
“The presidential decree prohibits only currency transfers – if the purchase was for rubles, and the transfer was made in cryptocurrencies (which are not yet recognized as currency in Russia), then even formal grounds for potential proceedings will not be.”
The easiest way to transfer cryptocurrency abroad:
Step one. Purchase cryptocurrency for fiat in Russia. You can turn to popular online exchangers, or physical exchange offices. There are enough such exchangers in major cities of the country, and they differ only in the percentage for services.
Step two. From your wallet, which received the purchased cryptocurrency, you can send it to another wallet. If you don’t have a wallet yet, you need to get one. Optimally, not on exchanges, but in anonymous mobile devices, or better as part of Ledger cold storage or other similar. Again, whether it’s overseas or domestically doesn’t matter: cross-border transactions with digital assets are not regulated, and if the essence of the transaction is not criminal activity, there will be no problems with such transactions.
Step three. If necessary, cryptocurrency obtained abroad can also be converted into fiat in a P2P transaction with local sellers of digital assets.
“Among the most optimal assets for such transactions, I would single out stabelcoins and low-volatility digital assets. Unless the goal is to make money on the potential growth of the cryptocurrency, it is better to send funds not in BTC, but, for example, in USDT, USDC, BUSD, etc.”
If the transfer is made through a non-custodial wallet, then it’s worth remembering that the transaction fee should be paid in the native token of the selected blockchain, stressed Bestchange.ru senior analyst Zuborev. That is, for example, to withdraw ERC-20 standard USDT, you need to have some Ethereum on your wallet as well, and for TRC-20 – some Tron. But when withdrawing from a cryptocurrency exchange, this necessity disappears – the organization takes an equivalent commission in the asset that is withdrawn. But you will have to pay for this convenience with your security – any exchange can freeze accounts, suspend transactions and so on at its discretion.