Russian crypto market worth $500B despite bad regulation, says exec

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The Russian cryptocurrency market has grown to hundreds of billions of dollars despite the absence of sufficient cryptocurrency regulation, according to a major industry executive.

Sergei Khitrov, founder of the Russian cryptocurrency event Blockchain Life, gave a keynote speech on the state of cryptocurrency regulation in Russia at the VII Blockchain Life Forum in Moscow on Oct. 27.

Based on his own industry insights and knowledge of the market, Khitrov estimated the Russian crypto market to be worth as much as 40 trillion rubles, or more than $550 billion. He also claimed that Russian crypto businesses could generate as much as 284 billion rubles ($4 billion) worth of taxes per year, should the Russian government provide more comfortable regulations for the industry.

But as Russian regulators have continued ignoring the industry’s interests over the past several years, local crypto businesses could do nothing but continue operating illegally or flee to other jurisdictions in order to survive, Khitrov told Cointelegraph.

“Without regulations that take into account the interests of the crypto community, crypto services will not be legally provided. It isn’t profitable for business to step out of the shadows,” he said.

Not a single home-grown cryptocurrency exchange has officially established its business in Russia, despite the significant market size, Khitrov stated:

“We know a lot of crypto exchanges with Russian roots, but, unfortunately these exchanges are either not officially registered or just based in other jurisdictions.”

The executive said that he’s been deeply committed to negotiating crypto legislation with various government authorities, and regulators have been well aware of local crypto people and businesses fleeing to other jurisdictions. According to Khitrov, the Russian government has been looking for ways to bring big crypto businesses home but has failed to meet the industry’s demands.

He also stressed that the Russian crypto community has so far demonstrated a “complete failure” to understand how to pay taxes on crypto.

Related: Russia does ‘absolutely nothing’ to regulate crypto, RACIB head says

Founded in 2017, the Blockchain Life forum is a major Russian cryptocurrency event taking place twice a year. The latest Blockchain Life forum took place in Moscow on Oct. 26 and Oct 27, bringing together more than 5,000 attendees and speakers, including industry representatives and state officials like Russian internet ombudsman Dmitrii Marinichev and the Ministry of Economic Development’s Alexey Minaev.

The forum featured executives from major global crypto exchanges like Huobi and Exmo as well as local crypto entrepreneurs, largely representing retailers of Chinese Bitcoin mining hardware. The event also featured a nonfungible token (NFT) auction organized through Binance NFT, the NFT platform and marketplace operated by the world’s largest crypto exchange.