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Russia and Iran Consider Deploying a Gold-Backed Stablecoin

The government of Russia may be partnering with Iran’s central bank to issue a new stablecoin backed by gold. 

The stablecoin’s purpose will be to facilitate cross-border trade settlement.

Russia’s New Trade Plan

Per a report from the Russian media outlet Vedomosti on Monday, the stablecoin could ideally work as a substitute for dollars, ruble, and euro in foreign trade. 

Anton Tkachev confirmed that negotiations for such a token were already taking place. However, the ongoing discussion at state level may only take effect after Russia fully regulates cryptocurrencies.

Russia has previously been at odds with itself over how to handle crypto. While the Russian central bank once advocated banning the sector entirely like China, the Ministry of Finance believed in a regulatory approach. 

Today, disagreements around the sector are starting to work themselves out. While President Vladimir Putin banned cryptocurrency as a means of payment last year, the country later legalized digital assets for cross-border payments. Putin has also expressed interest in the Bitcoin mining industry, viewing Russia as having distinct advantages in that sector. 

Both Iran and Russia signed an agreement in early January to build a cargo vessel for facilitating trade along the Caspian sea. The northern tip of the network would be  Astrakhan – a town in Russia. 

Towards the end of 2022, State Duma Committee chairman on Financial Markets, Anatoly Aksakov, said appropriate rules governing crypto will be in place by the end of 2023. “I can only say unequivocally that it cannot be used in the Russian Federation as a means of payment for internal settlements,” he said at the time. 

Popularity of Stablecoins

Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies value-pegged to otherwise stable financial assets. They include precious metals (ex. gold) or, more commonly, fiat currencies (ex. dollars). This helps harness the accessibility and portability of cryptocurrencies while correcting for the volatility associated with standard digital assets, like Bitcoin or Ethereum.

In July, Russia’s Financial Policy Department Director, Ivan Chebeskov, showed support for businesses and investors use such tools. However, Russia’s central bank suggested a government-backed digital ruble as a better alternative to private market stablecoins. Its proposal was due to the reliability of their peg.

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Lastly, the State Duma has expressed openness to facilitating international trade through various currencies. This comes after several Western countries placed sanctions against the superpower last year.

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