KEY POINTS

  • Sberbank was given a license to issue digital currency last month
  • The bank also launched Sbercoin, its own crypto, in March
  • Sbercoin was trading at $0.00004323

Sberbank, the largest Russian bank in terms of asset value, has silently rolled out its native cryptocurrency Sbercoin last month in a bid to support the country's economy hit by a host of sanctions imposed by different countries after its invasion of Ukraine.

The Central Bank of the Russian Federation has given Sberbank a license to issue and exchange digital financial assets on March 17. Sberbank, along with financial ecosystem Lighthouse, was listed on the central bank's register, allowing both companies to issue and trade digital assets on their respective platform.

On the same day, media reports claimed that Russia's largest bank launched Sbercoin. Several industry watchers believe the launch of Sbercoin could be a way to exchange rubles for other currencies and circumvent western sanctions.

Sberbank Europe AG, headquartered in Austria and well-established in eastern Europe, has 800,000 customers, 3,900 employees and assets of 13 billion euros
Sberbank Europe AG, headquartered in Austria and well-established in eastern Europe, has 800,000 customers, 3,900 employees and assets of 13 billion euros AFP / Jure Makovec

However, RippleNet general manager Asheesh Birla believes the possibility of this is arguable. "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," the executive of the blockchain-based payments service provider said in an interview with Markets Insider.

Birla also noted that while Russia's largest bank can launch crypto, it might not be helpful in moving cash inside and outside the country. "I'm not sure it's going to be very helpful in terms of getting liquidity in and out of Russia," the executive noted.

The RippleNet general manager explained that the idea is "like taking your own bank account and putting it onto a ledger. It's not all that useful unless you can start trading it for other things. And so far, the data I saw is that it's not very liquid."

Sbercoin began trading at $0.0003617 on March 17 with a 24-hour trading volume of $948,000. The coin, which trades on Pancakeswap is trading up 73.19% at $0.00004323 with a 24-hour volume of $58,248, based on data from CoinMarketCap as of 4:41 a.m. ET on April 4.

The idea of Sberbank rolling out its own cryptocurrency was first floated in 2020 after the bank started experimenting with blockchain technology. At the time Sberbank CEO Herman Gref said that Sbercoin could launch sometime in 2021.

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