The Ministry of Finance supported the idea of regulating gaming currencies. This is necessary to prevent their use as a means of payment outside of video games, as well as for money laundering and sponsoring terrorism, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev told Izvestia.
Unlike cryptocurrencies, which can be converted and used as a means of payment and exchange, game currencies, as a rule, can only be used to purchase services and items within a particular game, the press service of Rosfinmonitoring explained. However, some gaming services also offer customers to convert game funds into fiat money or sell in-game items for real currencies. Among such online games, for example, Second Life, Entropia Universe, Roblox.
Approaches to regulating the turnover of convertible game currencies and virtual assets should be identical, according to Rosfinmonitoring. Previously, they reported that in recent years, the video game industry has seen a surge in criminal activity. Due to the ease of transfer of in-game currency and the high workload of platforms, criminal transactions are lost.
At the same time, the Central Bank saw serious risks for the Russian financial system in the use of game currencies. According to the law, the official currency of Russia is the ruble, so the introduction of other monetary units or the issuance of monetary surrogates is prohibited, the press service of the Bank of Russia reported. They added that the potential use of money surrogates as a means of payment for goods and services creates the risk of undermining money circulation and losing the sovereignty of the national currency.
Experts supported the inclusion of game currencies in the legal field. If any fiat money is involved in the process, then it is necessary to introduce regulation in order to avoid fraudulent activities, says Alexey Tarapovsky, founder of Anderida Financial Group. In his opinion, this market cannot be equated with cryptocurrencies, but the introduction of identification in this area will help to minimize cases of money laundering. In 2022, the total income of the global video game market will reach $240 billion, and by the end of 2023 it can grow by another 5-9%, the expert estimated.
The main difference between game currencies and conventional ones is the local scope of their use with restrictions on the possibilities of payments, purchases and savings in them, explained Mark Goykhman, chief economist at the TeleTrade information and analytical center.
“The processes are similar in many ways, for example, with chips in a casino that are bought with real money, can be increased in amount during the game and then “converted” back into regular money”, Mark Goykhman noted.
At the same time, game currencies are also not analogous to cryptocurrencies, the expert noted. The latter have decentralized issuers, an extensive global turnover, stock quotes, and the ability to exchange for other money and goods.
Previously, game currencies could only be used inside the game, but now they are quite easily converted into real money, said Petr Gusyatnikov, Senior Managing Partner at PG Partners law firm. In his opinion, first of all, at the moment it is necessary to regulate mobile games, since they are becoming the most popular. At the same time, this area is not mentioned at all in Russian legislation.
It would be advisable to introduce mandatory user identification when making transactions of a certain size using a bank account. Such an approach would be useful in the fight against money laundering and the sponsoring of terrorism, the expert believes.
If such currencies are supposed to be used in circulation outside of games, then their regulation is necessary from the point of view of countering the legalization of proceeds from crime and the financing of terrorism, Andrey Loboda, director of external relations at BitRiver, agrees. According to him, the largest sites and exchanges are ready to develop the Russian cryptocurrency market, and the transparency of depositing and withdrawing game currencies into fiat will grow rapidly.
Finam analyst Leonid Delitsyn noted that technically, cryptocurrencies and game currencies are different projects, but from the point of view of their regulation, they have common features, so legislators should use this.