State bank VTB, fintech firm execute Russia’s first digital asset deal

Russian lender VTB’s (VTBR.MM) VTB Factoring subsidiary and fintech company Lighthouse have executed the country’s first cash-backed digital financial asset transaction, the bank said on Wednesday.

In February blockchain platform Atomyze Russia was legally permitted to exchange digital assets in a country whose central bank has long voiced scepticism of cryptocurrencies, citing financial stability concerns and advocating for a complete ban on trading.

Lighthouse and Russia’s top lender Sberbank (SBER.MM) are the only other companies with such a licence.

VTB said the transaction was similar to the issue of short-term commercial bonds. Here, the debt pool of the issuer, in this case engineering company Metrowagonmash, was tokenised on Lighthouse’s platform and purchased by VTB Factoring.

“In this way, the first issue and placement of digital financial assets secured by cash was made,” VTB said.

Ten thousand tokens were issued at a price of 500 roubles ($9.87) per token, issuing documents showed.

“The new technology of financing commercial debt significantly eases access to capital for Russian business,” said VTB Factoring CEO Anton Musatov.

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday approved a draft law that would potentially exempt issuers of digital assets and cryptocurrencies from value-added tax.

($1 = 50.6500 roubles)