Iran has been developing its own cryptocurrency, a project which has yielded an experimental local crypto, despite the country’s central bank banning banks from dealing with cryptocurrencies. Iran’s Information and Communications Technology Minister has shed light on the project, commented on its alleged use to evade sanctions, and clarified the central bank’s action.
Iran’s Crypto Project
Iran’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Minister, Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, revealed on Saturday that “Iran has developed an experimental local cryptocurrency,” Reuters reported him saying. “Last week, at a joint meeting to review the progress of the (local cryptocurrency) project, it was announced that the experimental model was ready.”
His statement follows the ban by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), prohibiting banks and financial institutions from dealing with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. The minister clarified that the ban will not affect Iran’s cryptocurrency efforts. The news outlet conveyed:
Iran cryptocurrency project [is] on track despite cenbank ban.
Azari-Jahromi is the country’s youngest minister and is known as an innovator. He tweeted in February that Post Bank of Iran, a subsidiary of his ministry that has 400 branches and 14,500 offices across the country, had been working with local experts on an experimental cryptocurrency model that would be presented to the country’s banks for review and approval.
The research department of the ICT Ministry and the monetary and financial research institute of the central bank have been collaborating in order to examine and create the legal framework for fintech, Eranico publication reported Azari-Jahromi explaining. He further noted, “To date the results of this cooperation is good and the pilot sample is being implemented,” adding that “The virtual national currency would be backed up.”
The ICT Minister was quoted by the news outlet:
I believe that cryptocurrencies can have a significant impact on the country’s financial exchange model…However, first of all, research needs to be done in order to introduce this technology to the authorities.
He also commented on foreign media’s reporting of Iran developing national cryptocurrency to circumvent sanctions. Citing “Decentralization and lack of supervision of any financial regulatory institution on virtual currencies, including the characteristics of digital currency,” he said, “All cryptocurrencies have the ability to circumvent sanctions because they are not under the supervision of the US financial regulator.”
The central bank’s ban comes at a tenuous time for the Iranian economy. Between now and May 12, both the EU and the US are expected to decide on a new round of economic sanctions targeting Tehran. This could restore the harsh international controls on Iran that were lifted in the 2015 nuclear treaty between Iran and six major powers, including the US.
Central Bank’s Ban
Referring to the ban by the central bank, Azari-Jahromi said, “the ban on trading virtual currencies and bitcoin by the central bank as the financial and currency regulator of the country is due to preventing foreign currency from exiting in the current state of the country.”
IRNA news agency further quoted him emphasizing:
The central bank’s (ban) does not mean the prohibition or restriction of the use of the digital currency in domestic development.
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