According to an estimate used by the Kremlin and government officials in developing a plan to regulate the industry, Russians own more than 16.5 trillion rubles ($214 billion) in cryptocurrencies.

This figure, which is equivalent to around 12% of total global holdings or one-third of the market capitalization of Russia's benchmark stock index, helps to explain why the government sees more value in regulating the sector rather than simply banning it. According to two officials working on the proposals with the government and the Kremlin, the estimate was calculated last month by studying the IP addresses of the largest crypto-exchange users as well as other information.

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To be sure, due to the decentralised nature of the investments, there is a broad variety of estimates for how much crypto Russians have. Anatoly Aksakov, the head of the lower house of parliament's financial markets committee, stated in December that Russians possessed cryptocurrencies worth approximately 5 trillion rubles.

The numbers provide a view of the expanding cryptocurrency sector in the world's third-largest bitcoin miner, as central bank officials press for a sweeping ban on the local industry, while the government takes a more moderate approach.

According to data from the Singapore-based tripleA payment gateway, more than 17 million Russians, or around 12% of the entire population, possess cryptocurrency. According to those involved in the discussions, 60% of local crypto investors are between the ages of 25 and 44, and more than 500,000 local computer programmers work in the industry.