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Russia's interest in bitcoin is overestimated, says head of VTB International

  • It had been reported that the interest in bitcoin in Russia had led to a spike in Google searches, patent registrations and plans for a national cryptocurrency
  • However, the head of the second largest Russian bank told CNBC that he hasn't seen a lot of interest for bitcoin

Russia's appetite for bitcoin has been overblown by the media, the head of Russian bank VTB International told CNBC Tuesday.

"There was some speculation that there was some buying coming from Russian investors, but more than these reports, as a bank, we have not seen much in terms of flows," Riccardo Orcel said.

It had been reported that the enthusiasm for bitcoin in Russia had led to a spike in Google searches, patent registrations and even plans for a national cryptocurrency called the CryptoRuble. However, he told CNBC that he hadn't seen this level of intensity surrounding the cryptocurrency.

"There was some interest reported in the press but I've not seen in Russia a lot of interest in bitcoin, to be honest," Orcel said.

Meanwhile, Andrey Kostin, president and CEO of VTB Bank, told CNBC Tuesday that he is "a little bit skeptical" about the use of cryptocurrencies in general.

"We see a lot of high speculation factor in cryptocurrencies and I think it's dangerous," he said.

"Until the governments decide how to regulate this area I think it will be very, very dangerous for investors to invest in cryptocurrencies."

Nonetheless, the future of banking is in innovative technologies, Orcel said.

"Clearly fintech (financial technology) is the future for the banking industry. For a country of the size of Russia, clearly having branches around the entire country is just not possible and fintech is the future."

Orcel suggested that there could be some consolidation in the future between banks and high technology firms, as a result.