Russian lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday that gives cryptocurrencies a legal status, but their use as means of payment remains prohibited.

Law on cryptocurrencies passed in last reading

As reported by Reuters, the lower house of parliament, also known as the Duma, adopted the bill on digital financial assets in third and final reading.

Anatoly Aksakov, who chairs the Russian Banking Association and a finance committee within the Duma, said that a consensual position on what a cryptocurrencies is is now defined by law.

He explained as he explained the law to Duma members:

Essentially, cryptocurrencies is a complex of digital data, a digital code or reference stored in the information system.

The law is only opposed by formalities

The bill now goes to the upper house of parliament and then to the Kremlin, although these last two steps are generally considered a formality.

In its comments on the new law after an earlier reading on Tuesday, the Central Bank said

The bill introduces the definition of a digital currency, which cannot be a means of payment. Possession of digital currency, its acquisition and transfer by legal means are only allowed if they are declared.

When it was introduced, the Russian authorities declared cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoins illegal, on the grounds that they could be used for money laundering or to finance terrorism.

Russia changed its position in 2018 and promised to regulate the market for cryptocurrencies, but this regulation has been delayed since then.