Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for a new system of international settlements based on blockchain and digital currencies.

Speaking at the International AI Journey Conference in Moscow on Nov. 24, Putin said that the current system of cross-border payments is expensive and controlled by a small group of states and financial institutions.

“In fact, they are acting as the masters of the universe who have monopolized control over everything,” said Putin.

Although he didn’t mention the system by name, he appeared to be describing the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, aka SWIFT, system, which is the dominant member-owned cooperative processing international transfers and uses correspondent banks. After Russia invaded Ukraine, Western governments froze the country’s access to SWIFT.

The Russian President made a case for the technology behind digital currencies and blockchains that could be used to create a new system of international settlements. In his view, this system will be “much more convenient” and safe for users, and importantly, not depend on banks or third countries.

“I am confident that something like this will certainly be created and will develop, because nobody likes the dictates of monopolists, which is harming all parties, including the monopolists themselves,” he said.

On Nov. 23, Russian media outlet Vedomosti reported that the State Duma is working on a draft amendment to create a national crypto exchange in the country.

Sergey Altukhov, a member of the Economic Policy Committee, told the publication that it was necessary to legalize cryptocurrency and adjust the “rules of the game.” In doing so, he believes Russia can better account for the large stream of rubles circulated in digital assets that currently fall outside the purview of regulators.

The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) also appears to be exploring the integration of cryptocurrencies into its existing financial system. Earlier this month, the CBR published a 33-page report on digital assets, exploring crypto regulation, tokenizing digital property rights and retail investor protection.