A Belarussian student gathers and loads potatoes on a field in a state-owned farm near the village of Timki, some 80 km (50 miles) east of Minsk September 5, 2013. The students receive 60,000 rubles ($5.5) for four hours' work in harvesting the farm, as well as vegetables for their schools' kitchens. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (BELARUS - Tags: AGRICULTURE SOCIETY EDUCATION) - RTX1381Y

Russian farmers are ditching rubles for cryptocurrency

$500K

Russian farmers and businesses from the village of Kolionovo are ditching the ruble in favor of their own cryptocurrency—the kolion.

Published   |  Photo by Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko
A Belarussian student gathers and loads potatoes on a field in a state-owned farm near the village of Timki, some 80 km (50 miles) east of Minsk September 5, 2013. The students receive 60,000 rubles ($5.5) for four hours' work in harvesting the farm, as well as vegetables for their schools' kitchens. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (BELARUS - Tags: AGRICULTURE SOCIETY EDUCATION) - RTX1381Y
$500K

Kolion’s first iteration came in 2014, when banker-turned-farmer Mikhail Shlyapnikov created it to fund his farm, refusing high-interest bank loans. One unit equaled 10 kilograms of potatoes.

A Belarussian student gathers and loads potatoes on a field in a state-owned farm near the village of Timki, some 80 km (50 miles) east of Minsk September 5, 2013. The students receive 60,000 rubles ($5.5) for four hours' work in harvesting the farm, as well as vegetables for their schools' kitchens. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (BELARUS - Tags: AGRICULTURE SOCIETY EDUCATION) - RTX1381Y
$500K

The currency supported trade in Kolionovo, where cash wasn’t common—but authorities took Shlyapnikov to court for allegedly “subverting the economic security of the Russian state.”

A Belarussian student gathers and loads potatoes on a field in a state-owned farm near the village of Timki, some 80 km (50 miles) east of Minsk September 5, 2013. The students receive 60,000 rubles ($5.5) for four hours' work in harvesting the farm, as well as vegetables for their schools' kitchens. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (BELARUS - Tags: AGRICULTURE SOCIETY EDUCATION) - RTX1381Y
$500K

Kolion was banned shortly after it started, but eventually revived as a cryptocurrency last year, raising $500,000 through an ICO.

A Belarussian student gathers and loads potatoes on a field in a state-owned farm near the village of Timki, some 80 km (50 miles) east of Minsk September 5, 2013. The students receive 60,000 rubles ($5.5) for four hours' work in harvesting the farm, as well as vegetables for their schools' kitchens. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (BELARUS - Tags: AGRICULTURE SOCIETY EDUCATION) - RTX1381Y
$500K

“You don’t see many rubles around here,” Shlyapnikov told the Wall Street Journal. “So we created our own currency. Banks don’t want to lend to small farmers.”

A Belarussian student gathers and loads potatoes on a field in a state-owned farm near the village of Timki, some 80 km (50 miles) east of Minsk September 5, 2013. The students receive 60,000 rubles ($5.5) for four hours' work in harvesting the farm, as well as vegetables for their schools' kitchens. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (BELARUS - Tags: AGRICULTURE SOCIETY EDUCATION) - RTX1381Y
$500K

As cryptocurrencies continue booming in Russia, the government is reversing course by overturning regulations against crypto-related media and setting up new laws to regulate ICOs.

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