Is crypto the answer for Russia’s medical travellers?

For many years, the government and the national banking sector of Russia has looked at but not been prepared to accept crypto currency.  Now that European and USA sanctions have made it difficult for many Russian tourists to use global currencies and debit/credit cards in many countries, Russia’s central bank has changed its mind about how to regulate crypto currency and is working with the finance ministry to legitimise it for international payments.

While Russian medical tourists are no longer going in numbers to European countries that are supporting sanctions, they are still going to Asian and African countries.

The EU hoped that African and Asian countries would also place economic sanctions on Russia but this has not happened and seems unlikely to happen. The reasons are complex and the African position is mostly caused, rather bizarrely, by the UK laying claim to islands in Asia-Pacific. Basically the African block refused to sanction Russia for breaking international law with Ukraine on the basis that the UK was breaking international law in the African ocean.

Russians want to go as medical tourists to many Asian and African countries but these countries mostly do not accept the Russian ruble as they cannot exchange it for dollars or euros.

The Bank of Russia, the nation’s central bank, is now acknowledging that given the geopolitical climate, cross-border crypto transfers are unavoidable.

The Bank of Russia and the finance ministry anticipate legalising cross-border crypto currency payments soon. The need for local crypto currency services in Russia has increased massively as Russians illegally use international sites to create crypto currency wallets. The bank says this must be done in Russia, engaging organisations under the central bank’s supervision required to adhere to Know Your Customer and anti-money laundering regulations.