Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia, on Dec. 30, launched a blockchain ETF tracking the bank’s Blockchain Economy Index.
The country remains in strong opposition to cryptocurrencies but its central bank has clarified they will not be banned.
On Thursday, Dec. 30, the largest bank in Russia, Sberbank, launched the nation’s first blockchain exchange-traded fund (ETF). A press release from Sber Asset Management notes that the fund, dubbed Sberbank Blockchain Economy ETF, will be tradeable on the Russian stock market under the ticker “SBBE.”
Additionally, the ETF touts itself as the first of its kind in the country, giving investors exposure to blockchain-invested companies. The fund tracks the Sber Blockchain Economy Index developed by SberCIB Investment Research. As such, it grants investors exposure to cryptocurrency-related businesses including crypto asset managers, mining firms, and blockchain advisory enterprises. Among them are Coinbase, asset manager Galaxy Digital, and blockchain software company Digindex.
Sberbank confirms first blockchain ETF
Part of the statement from Sber Asset Management says the offering gives investors exposure to the “blockchain economy without the difficulties associated with the direct development, purchase, storage, and sale of digital assets.”
General Director of Sberbank Asset Management, Evgeny Zaitsev, added:
Direct investments in crypto assets involve high risks, it is difficult to assess them independently. Therefore, we offer to invest not in crypto assets, but in companies that ensure the development of blockchain technologies. The exchange fund is available to anyone thanks to its simplicity and low entry threshold.
Many nations around the world have shown a keen interest in ETFs tracking blockchain and cryptocurrency indexes. This year, the US, after many delayed and rejected proposals, finally approved trading in several Bitcoin futures ETFs. Canada has approved both Bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs. The notion for investors has been that these kinds of offerings carry less risk than direct investments in single crypto or blockchain products and companies.
Russia still wary of crypto
Still, the latest move by Sberbank does not at all change the unfriendly tone Russia has long held against cryptocurrencies. The country has been quite outspoken against digital assets, claiming they facilitate money laundering and terrorist financing.
In recent months, the central bank of Russia has made clear its intentions of prohibiting crypto investments in the country. The bank has further talked of plans to launch the digital Ruble CBDC (central bank digital currency). And just three months ago, the bank and other commercial banks, collaborated in delaying payments made to crypto exchanges. One of the bank’s officials said this was done to control the so-called “emotional” purchases made by “unqualified” investors.
Nonetheless, just like the US, the country has no intention of completely banning digital assets. As communicated by the Bank of Russia last week, legislation will focus on regulating crypto circulation rather than prohibiting it.
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