OAO Sberbank Chief Gref voices support for Bitcoin

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Jan 24, 2014 07:32 AM EST

OAO Sberbank Chief Executive Officer Herman Gref has given his support for the Bitcoin, calling on the Kremlin to prevent Russian lawmakers from putting curbs on anonymous transactions through a bill that is structured to restrict financing for terrorists, Bloomberg reported.

In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Gref said, "It's a very interesting global experiment that breaks the paradigm of currency issuance." The former Economy Minister in the first two terms of President Vladimir Putin considered a ban to be a "colossal step backward," the report said.

Gref said he had already written to the Kremlin, Russia's central bank and the Finance Ministry, urging officials to get involved with what is happening at the parliament in order to avoid potential restrictions. The views of Gref is opposite that held by many of his western peers like JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon who said in a CNBC interview at the World Economic Forum that governments won't be too happy with the Bitcom and will eventually regulate it like other payment systems, the report said. Gref has headed state-run Sberbank since 2007.

Bitcoin supporters say that they are setting a system that would allow money to be moved securely online but at a cheaper cost than what is being charged with existing modes of money transfers like bank debits, remittances or wire transfers. Banks like JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc generate billions of dollars in fees for these services, the report said.

Bitcoin topoped $1,000 for the first time in November but has since declined to around $790 on online exchange Bitstamp. Just a year ago, the price of one Bitcoin was only around $15, the report said.

The report quoted Gref as saying about the currency, "It definitely shouldn't be banned, it must be studied and maybe regulated properly."

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