Iran may be planning to launch its own state cryptocurrency

New statements suggest that Iran's central bank is developing a cryptocurrency that would be administered by the state government.

Mike Richardson
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Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, minister of Iran's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, tweeted early Wednesday New York time that state-run Post Bank is working on developing a cryptocurrency. Roughly translated, the message reads:

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

According to local news resource Iran Front Page, the Central Bank of Iran says it has never recognized bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency as an official currency in the country. The central bank warned investors that they “may lose their financial assets” in crypto-related investments due to market volatility.

Further, the central bank is reportedly collaborating with other financial institutions to reportedly develop a mechanism to ‘control and prevent’ cryptocurrencies in Iran. Such a move, if true, is yet to be verified and the central bank has not issued any official statement in this regard.

The idea of a federal institution such as a central bank creating its own cryptocurrency has been discussed in different parts of the world for the last few years. While regulators have widely viewed bitcoin with a critical eye, China, Russia, Singapore and some other countries have been experimenting with developing their own digital currencies.

Last year In November, Iran’s minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) revealed the ministry was preparing to embrace bitcoin as a solution to bypass economic sanctions that has previously disconnected Iran’s banking system from global commerce and finance. “The ministry of communications and information technology has already conducted a number of research studies as part of efforts to prepare the infrastructure to use Bitcoin inside the country,” ICT minister Amir Hossein Davaee reportedly said at the time.

Iran underwent a banking blackout after global payments rail SWIFT banned the country from its network in 2012, a blockade that lasted four years until sanctions on Tehran were lifted by former US President Obama’s nuclear deal in 2016.

Within weeks, Iran’s High Council of Cyberspace (HCC) stated its ‘positive’ view on cryptocurrencies, specifically bitcoin, with regulations. “We welcome Bitcoin, but we must have regulations for Bitcoin and any other digital currency,” stated HCC secretary Abolhassan Firouzabadi.