Sberbank plans to trade cryptocurrencies outside Russia

MOSCOW, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Russia’s largest lender Sberbank plans to start trading cryptocurrencies outside Russia in order to avoid violating domestic rules, the bank’s Head of Global Markets Andrey Shemetov said on Tuesday.

Russian authorities have said they will not legalise digital currencies such as Bitcoin as a means of payment in Russia and are still working on ways to regulate cryptocurrency transactions without fully banning them.

Shemetov said Russian laws bar Sberbank from trading cryptocurrencies. But the state-controlled bank wants to be able to serve clients in what is a popular market for some investors.

“That’s why we think that we need to have a strategic access to these products,” Shemetov told reporters at a news briefing.

“Swiss laws allow cryptocurrency trading, and we are working on infrastructure to start offering these services through our Swiss subsidiary,” he said.

Russia’s top lender has a branch in Switzerland, Sberbank (Switzerland) AG, headquartered in Zurich.

Shemetov did not say when Sberbank could start trading cryptocurrencies. (Reporting by Yelena Orekhova; Writing by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Mark Potter)