Cryptocurrencies are ‘surrogate money’, according to a new draft of the cryptocurrency law proposed in Russia. Gift certificates, air miles, and other marketing bonuses are not.

A new version of a law on ‘surrogate money’ was uploaded to the Russian Integrated State Web portal on Friday, February 6th. The Russian Ministry of Finance considers all currencies, including electronic ones, that are used for payments or exchange of goods and services and not provided for by federal laws to have the status of ‘surrogate money’. However, a new clause has been added in the new draft, excluding from the definition of surrogate money ‘the objects of proprietary rights emerging as a result of parties fulfilling their contractual obligations under civil law and used for stimulating the purchase of goods, works, and services”.

This means that, if the law is approved, all kinds of marketing bonuses and rewards will continue to be legal while cryptocurrencies will be completely forbidden. The emission of ‘surrogate money’, of software that can be used for its emission, or the provision of information that makes the emission or use of cryptocurrencies possible, will entail a penalty. Even the use of cryptocurrencies will be penalized: individuals can be fined for up to 20,000 roubles (around $300) and organizations may be liable to pay up to 1,000,000 roubles (around $15,000).

The previous draft of the bill, which did not contain any exceptions for marketing bonuses and certificates, had been met with hostility by the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, which considered the limitations imposed by the draft as “excessive” and “conducive to unreasonable budgetary expense”.

The draft is currently up for discussion on the state web portal. Three users have so far commented on it. All three comments are entirely negative (even if one of them lauded the desire to regulate cryptocurrency), stressing that the current draft of the law, if adopted, would not impede illegal bitcoin activity, but would be disastrous for legal businessmen and for the development of Russian technology.