As US sanctions loom, Iran is reportedly planning to launch its own crypto-currency, according to a 25 July story from the nation’s official news channel Press TV. The report claims Tehran is preparing to develop its own digital currency to circumnavigate impending sanctions from American President Donald Trump’s administration that, says the Islamic Republic, aim to cripple the country.
The sanctions come as Washington prepares to not just leave the international Iranian nuclear framework agreement but also penalize anyone that does business with Iran. It is anticipated that this will bring serious financial consequences to the country’s oil, banking and even its famous carpet trade sectors.
“We are trying to prepare the grounds to use a domestic digital currency in the country… This currency would facilitate the transfer of money (to and from) anywhere in the world. Besides, it can help us at the time of sanctions,” Alireza Daliri, deputy for management and investment affairs at Directorate for Scientific and Technological Affairs of the Presidential Office told Press TV.
Iran is not the first country to develop its own crypto-currency in order to sidestep sanctions. Venezuela launched a digital currency called the Petro late last year in an attempt to revive its economy, which had collapsed after the 2014 oil price crash. The South American country is seeking to slow down inflation that the IMF this week said could soon reach 1 million percent.
Iran’s move seems like an about-turn, given that the country’s Islamic Republic News Agency reported in April that Bitcoin and other cyrpto-currencies were banned in the country. The news agency said the Central Bank of Iran cited money laundering and terrorism as reasons for the ban.
Neighboring Pakistan announced in May that in spite of the State Bank of Pakistan banning crypto-currencies, the value of Pakistan’s first and only crypto-currency, PakCoin, jumped by over 60%. Earlier this month Forbes reported that because of fears of a coming economic crisis, many in Pakistan are still moving away from fiat currency to Bitcoin and crypto-currencies.
The Iranian government’s plan to create ‘an indigenous crypto-currency’ – with the central bank working alongside domestic knowledge-based companies – will initially only be used for clearing bank transactions but will be rolled out, at a later date, to the general public.
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