Iran Hints it Might Release a National Cryptocurrency Too

February 22, 2018

Possibly following in the footsteps of Venezuela, Iran is hinting it may release its own cryptocurrency. After months of speculation, it now appears officials — while still not thrilled about bitcoin — realize its technology may have more followers than they thought.

For It… Yet Against It?

The country’s central bank recently released a statement explaining why it did not support bitcoin or related cryptocurrency trades:

“The wild fluctuations of digital currencies along with competitive business activities underway via network marketing and pyramid schemes have made the market of these currencies highly reliable and risky.”

Despite these words, Iran has played host to some interesting contradictions over the last three years. While government regulators have refused to recognize bitcoin as an official currency, citizens have been growing closer to it since 2015, around the time Iran reached its present nuclear deal with the West.

Sanctions in Iran have eased somewhat since then, yet the country remains primarily cut off from large financial institutions and payment platforms such as Visa, Mastercard and even PayPal.

As a result, residents have often turned to bitcoin and related cryptocurrencies as a means of filling in the “monetary blanks.” Digital money has grown increasingly popular in Iran, and officials finally seem to be taking notice.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Change Is Coming!

In a recent (and surprising) move, Iran’s minister of information and communications technology Mohammad Azari Jahromi made it clear on Twitter that the country was in the early stages of developing a national virtual currency:

“In a meeting with the board of directors of the Post Bank of Iran on digital currency-based blocking chains, the necessary measures for the pilot implementation of the country’s first digital currency were set out using the country’s elite capacity. A pilot model for review and approval will be presented to the banking system of the country.”

Post Bank is an institution in Iran that predominately focuses on e-finance and growing the national electronic banking infrastructure. Jahromi invited all tech experts in Iran to cooperate with the bank’s executives, who are paving the way for the pilot program.

He also stated that cryptocurrency usage has grown at an “international level,” and that Iran would be required to explore the digital arena further if it was going to keep its economy competitive.

Virtual Currency Finds Some Newfound Love in Iran

Though shaky at times, Iran has walked a relatively straight line towards digital currency integration. Swedish blockchain startup Brave New World Investments, for example, now allows traders to invest in bitcoin-based companies listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange, and the fight is on regarding which company will bring Iran its first ICO.

Despite its recent reputation for economic isolation, Iran may be looking for new ways to integrate with the rest of the world. We’ll just have to wait to see if that integration comes from the government, or the people.

Is Iran headed in the right direction with a national virtual currency? Post your comments below.

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