An official at Iran’s biggest bank called for bankers to use digital currencies themselves and design a domestic digital currency.
Digital Currencies Shaping the Future of Banking
Masoud Khatouni, the deputy for information technology and communications network at Bank Melli Iran (BMI), has come out in favor of cryptocurrencies. According to the bank official:
Iran must formally recognise activities using digital currencies as they are currently shaping the future of banking. Banks themselves must also enter this field to use them.
The BMI official believes that his nation could benefit from digital currency, particularly as they have a history of dealing with the burden of economic sanctions. He stressed that there should be “no limitations” on the use of digital currencies. “I ask central bank officials to refrain from creating restrictions for digital currencies by way of laws and regulations, because based on the current realities of the world, they have taken form and the Iranian people have also moved toward them,” said the banker.
Mixed Signals on Emerging Cryptocurrency
The bank official’s stance is markedly different from other prominent bankers in Iran. Both the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Governor Valiollah Seifand and head of its Innovative Technologies Department Nasser Hakimi have recently urged people to exercise utmost caution when dealing in cryptocurrencies, especially with the most well known: Bitcoin.
Last December, member of parliament Mohammad Reza Pour-Ebrahimi reportedly said that Bitcoin and other digital currencies were not in line with the nation’s religious beliefs and therefore caution must be exercised:
Deals and transactions made through Bitcoin are in no way in accordance with Islamic and economic fundamentals, therefore related entities, especially the central bank, must exert the necessary supervision over these deals.
But in continuation of his support for the use of virtual currencies, Khatouni believes that his nation could benefit from digital currency, particularly as they have had a history of dealing with the burden of economic sanctions. He suggested that the central bank should create a group to integrate digital currencies into their banking practices and to devise regulations based on the global experience.
Wait longer, Damage Worse
Khatouni believed that digital currencies are entering the banks silently, but most banks remain oblivious to their presence. “The more time it takes for digital currencies to formally enter the country, the more damage it will inflict,” warned the BMI banker.
Despite warnings from Iranian regulators, Coindance data shows that cryptocurrency trading in the country has surged amid its political turmoil. “Many people inside the country are currently engaged in buying and selling digital currencies such as Bitcoin,” said Khatouni. “We must not let things continue, which will force them to deal in it secretly and for that we need to devise comprehensive, precise and transparent rules and regulations for the use of digital currencies.”
The central bank is expected to make its stance regarding cryptocurrencies clear as part of a regulatory framework by the end of the first half of the next Iranian fiscal year in September.
What do you think of the banker’s call for cryptocurrency acceptance and the central bank’s warning on bitcoin? Share your insights in the comments below.
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