Sberbank and VTB, the two biggest banks in Russia, are not willing to move into the cryptocurrency market in the near future as their CEOs believe that crypto is either too risky or fake money.

Sberbank CEO Herman Gref said that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) are probably the riskiest type of investment alongside the equity market. In a Thursday interview with local TV channel NTV, Gref claimed that a banking deposit is the best investment option as it is associated with the least amount of risk despite low returns:

“A banking deposit is certainly the most reliable investment instrument. 100% reliability but unfortunately not very high profitability.”

Andrey Kostin, the CEO of VTB — Russia’s second-largest bank — went even further, arguing that crypto is “fake money.” In a Friday interview with Bloomberg, Kostin said:

“We don’t like Bitcoin. We think it’s like making fake money. Somebody’s sitting somewhere mining and mining like in the Middle Ages and then using them.”

Kostin expressed confidence that central bank digital currencies will displace crypto, stating that private banks were initially “a bit concerned” about giving all the power over money to the Bank of Russia.

“The banks were a little bit concerned that the central bank would take their business but I think we’ve found the solution that actually customers will stay with the banks while the cryptocurrency will be controlled and issued by a central bank,” he said.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the aforementioned CEOs are unsupportive of private digital currencies, as the Russian government — itself no major proponent of cryptocurrencies — owns major controlling stakes in both Sberbank and VTB.

Yesterday, Oliver Hughes — the CEO of private digital bank Tinkoff — announced that the Bank of Russia won’t let it launch crypto services despite the demand from clients. 

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