The Moscow Stock Exchange will soon start accepting trading in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin against paper currency. Russia would become the first stock exchange to do so.

The new proposition to include Bitcoin trading in the Moscow Stock Exchange would make Russia the first country that does so. While the move has not been made yet, the signs are all there, and the preparations to get it done are underway. If you are a qualified investor, meaning you have more than six million rubles in personal assets or more than 200 million rubles if yours is an investment firm, then you can trade in Bitcoins in the Moscow Stock Exchange.

The move comes as a complete turnaround to the country’s stand on cryptocurrency just a year ago. While the Russian government was quite against Bitcoin and its usage and was seeking to make it illegal, they have now identified the popularity of the cryptocurrency and are looking to embrace it. This is partly due to the popularity among Russian users and the lobbying effort of Russian regulators.

The country has a large group of cryptocurrency developers. There are many cases of computer wizards born in Russia and living abroad who are into cryptocurrencies. Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, is one such individual. He met with Vladimir Putin in June this year to discuss the prospect of incorporating cryptocurrencies. The meeting resulted in a growing number of people in the Russian administrative and legal sector keen to adopt cryptocurrencies.

Before the country goes through with this move, it is doing research and creating a framework that will protect investors from money laundering. Since Bitcoin, like most cryptocurrencies, is a completely decentralized service that thrives on anonymity and has a largely volatile nature when it comes to stock value, the assets of investors need to be secured against its pitfalls. For starters, the Moscow Stock Exchange’s central depository NSD is developing a blockchain platform for settlement services for these digital assets. This will result in the NSD issuing cryptocurrency and crypto-wallets for pension funds, banks, and retail investors. These assets could then also be exchanged for paper currencies when the platform is launched next year.

Legal and Technological protection of the investors and other parties needs to be taken into consideration, which is why the Russian government is making all efforts in getting to grips with cryptocurrencies. The decentralized nature of Bitcoin is a stumbling block as of now, and if the Russian government is to incorporate it in the Moscow Stock Exchange, it needs to put certain regulations on its usage. This has some of the cryptocurrency enthusiasts in a bind since they feel it will hamper the way the trade in that currency once the government tries to legalize and regulate it. But there’s an equal number of enthusiasts who believe that trading directly in the market could be to their benefit, as well as to the benefit of new investors.

There has been quite a lot of speculation regarding the reason for this sudden turnaround in the Russian government’s stand against Bitcoin. One reason that people give for this is Russia’s tussle with Washington. To ensure that the world doesn’t move towards a state where the Dollar becomes the one governing currency, making the entire world’s transactions directly under Washington. Adopting Bitcoin will definitely prevent this from happening since the entire world’s digital currency holders could try and get in on the act. This will no doubt lead to an inflation similar to the one caused by the dot-com boom of the 1990s.

The second reason that people give for this move is that Putin wants to be a modern-day man and adopt Bitcoin. Why? Because that’s what his opposition party has been doing for a while. Much of the opposition party’s funding has come in the form of Bitcoins, and Putin, afraid that his previous stand on the currency would create a bad image, wants to make amends before next year’s elections. While his party doesn’t have much of a threat, there’s no saying whether this move is to ensure that it remains that way.