Category Archives: Iran

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Nations That Desire State-Backed Crypto Should Just Use Bitcoin

Iran has recently been making headlines regarding the development of an state-backed cryptocurrency. This is due to crippling United States sanctions that are progressively tightening since the Iran Nuclear Deal was thrown out by the Trump administration, which has caused hyper-inflation of the local fiat currency rial (IRR). Further, the US is stopping Iran from buying and selling foreign currencies, precious metals, and commodities. Iran now has a team developing an Iranian state-backed cryptocurrency from scratch, which raises the question, why go through the trouble of developing a state-backed cryptocurrency instead of just using Bitcoin?

Venezuela is in a similar boat, having launched its own cryptocurrency called the Petro. The Petro is supposed to be backed by Venezuelan oil, but the technical specifications of Petro and any relation it has to oil are undisclosed. That alone makes it too hot to touch for crypto investors, but the US has also made all Petro trading illegal. If Iran were to successfully create and launch a state-backed cryptocurrency, it would almost certainly be made illegal like the Petro, massively inhibiting its potential to be traded globally.

If Venezuela and Iran were to just start using Bitcoin, they could completely avoid this problem. The US cannot ban Bitcoin even if Venezuela and Iran declared Bitcoin to be their official currency. Bitcoin has worldwide infrastructure, making it highly liquid and optimal for trading, and it is decentralized. Since Bitcoin is decentralized and cryptographically secure, to the point that not even the most powerful supercomputer can hack its network, it would be impossible to freeze Iranian or Venezuelan funds sent with Bitcoin. This would renew Venezuelan and Iranian economic freedom, which has been crippled by US sanctions.

Even though these countries are having very rough times economically, they still have large amounts of wealth which they can use to buy Bitcoin. If they were to buy Bitcoin covertly at first and then announce to the world that they have adopted Bitcoin as their main currency, Bitcoin would rally. This would automatically bring extra wealth to Iran and Venezuela, something they desperately need right now.

Also, Bitcoin already has value due to broad worldwide demand and an excellent track record. This gets rid of the problem of trying to give a state-backed cryptocurrency value by backing it with something like bank reserves or oil, which can result in a messy and awkward situation that ultimately leaves everyone skeptical, inhibiting growth in value.

The best way to sum this idea up is the old saying, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Bitcoin is a pure decentralized cryptocurrency, with solid worldwide infrastructure and demand worldwide gives it value. It functions perfectly well for Venezuela’s and Iran’s need for a currency that can get around sanctions; they could even use the Bitcoin to buy Monero and Zcash if they want to be extremely secretive.

It makes little sense for Iran and Venezuela to try and develop their own cryptocurrency when it will probably be made illegal and won’t be as good as Bitcoin. Instead, these nations and any nations in the future which desire a state-backed cryptocurrency, should simply focus on using tested and proven Bitcoin.

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Bitcoin Trade Skyrockets on Turkey’s Crypto Exchanges as Lira Plummets

Cryptocurrency trading surged in Turkey on Friday with the news that the country’s struggling fiat currency lira plunged in value on the money markets.

More concerns about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s economic policies and Turkey’s debt level sent the lira spiralling as global markets reflected their concerns about the state of that country’s economy. This was good news however for cryptocurrency as trading volumes at three of Turkey’s main crypto exchanges Paribu, Btcturk and Koinim witnessed a jump of 100% in just 24 hrs.

Turkey has experienced a bear market this year but terms of its relationship with Bitcoin and other cryptos, it’s been very upbeat, as one local university student observed on the weekend, “Every day there are new [bitcoin] exchanges coming up in Turkey.”

User Bitmov, an Instanbul marketing professional has been using bitcoin for over year to make overseas purchases and has now become his families crypto advisor. He commented:

“I started personally trading crypto 1.5 years ago because of the weakness of the Turkish lira, and fear of the political, and financial, status of the Turkish government. Cryptocurrency makes me feel much safer…If your national currency is falling like this … or you don’t trust centralized currencies and banks, what can you do? You should be your own bank, and I’m sure people all around the world will realize that”

This attitude is frequently reflected in other countries where unstable currencies are driving nationals towards a more stable kind of currency, such as in Venezuela and parts of Africa. Another such cryptocurrency user is Cardiologist from the capital Ankara, Bunyamin Yavuz who says he’s completely lost his trust of banks and now buys crypto such as XRP, Monero, and Stellar lumens. Yavuz only holds 10 percent of his currency in Lira, but 30 percent in cryptocurrencies.

There have been talks of a national cryptocurrency in Turkey for some time, following in the footsteps of the Venezuelan Petro, but this could hurt local exchanges if Bitcoin continues to become stronger and positions itself as an alternative.

Iran has gone the same way, although looking at a government-run crypto. But their current crypto trading position is different due to the use peer to peer transactions, overseas sanctions, and local government restrictions. Greater freedom exists in Turkey for those who wish to trade in Bitcoin. Concerns are growing though that the Turkish government may begin to take a harder line on cryptocurrency trading similar to that of its middle eastern neighbor.

The fall in the lira may be the first of many, given Erdoğan’s threats of an “economic war “ with the US. Although he has appealed for his country’s support for the currency, asking Turkish nationals to buy up the ailing lira for any other currency they own. It’s unlikely to be Bitcoin.

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Iran to Launch National Cryptocurrency Within 3 Months

The Deputy of Investment and Management Affairs of the Iranian Directorate for Scientific and Technological Affairs in the President’s Office, Alireza Diliri, has indicated that developing a national cryptocurrency is on the agenda. Government-run IRNA news network said a national cryptocurrency would be launched in the next three months after removing shortcomings, and a national standard cryptographic key had already been developed.

This report from the IRNA suggests Iran is developing this technology from the ground up, using its own new cryptographic standard, instead of using pre-existing cryptographic algorithms. This is perhaps not surprising since the United State’s National Security Association (NSA) developed the SHA-256 cryptographic algorithm used by Bitcoin. Iran would want to use encryption that the US would not understand since this cryptocurrency is being made in response to heavy international sanctions that are progressively going into effect and will be at full force by November 2018, following the US decision to dissolve the Iran nuclear pact.

Alireza Diliri says, “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.”

He said a large number of Iranian companies were working together to develop the cryptocurrency, and the Central Bank of Iran is helping in the process.

Iran now joins a small but growing list of nations that are launching state-backed cryptocurrencies, including the Bahamas and Venezuela. The details of Iran’s national cryptocurrency have not been disclosed. Iran has banned Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to prevent money from leaving the country during this time of rapid inflation.

Once the national cryptocurrency of Iran is launched, it will have tremendous potential for growth. It could be a safe haven for money, since the fiat currency of Iran, the rial (IRR), is rapidly devaluing, and it will be the only cryptocurrency allowed in Iran. However, how safe this cryptocurrency is for storing money depends on the parameters of the cryptocurrency, since Iran could code it so it can be printed like fiat, and can also code it so they can seize it out of accounts at will. It will likely have to be a centralized cryptocurrency for the Central Bank of Iran to give it approval.

The main point of this cryptocurrency is to send money across borders once international sanctions are fully in effect, since Iran will be banned from the international financial network. They will need something cryptographically-secure like a cryptocurrency to transact money securely.


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Which Countries Are Most Likely to Adopt Bitcoin First?

Bitcoin replacing a country’s government currency would be a huge achievement for cryptocurrency as well as a historical milestone. But which countries are most likely to adopt such a nascent currency?

One of the biggest drivers for adopting a cryptocurrency would be necessity. Countries where citizens experience hyperinflation, political instability, or other factors that shake confidence in a government currency typically see higher demand in alternative currencies like Bitcoin.

Countries possibly adopting Bitcoin on a major scale, for this reason, would be Iran, Venezuela and Argentina, to name a few.

Iran has made headlines with plans to withdraw EUR 300 million from German banks. Rising tension since 2015, when the US left the Nuclear Agreement, has only amplified with Trump entering the presidency.

The tension has only weakened confidence in the Iranian rial, leading to higher than market prices within Iran borders. Couple this with the US sanctions placed restricting liquidity and hyperinflation of 112%, and Bitcoin easily becomes the currency of choice for Iranian citizens.

While rial’s hyperinflation will lead to holders of the currency losing more than half of their value, this is nothing compared to Venezuela’s economic crisis.

A year ago, a cup of coffee in Venezuela was 2,200 Venezuelan bolivar (VEF), or around USD 0.20. Since then, inflation has been rampant, causing that same cup to be sold at VEF 1,400,000, for an effective annual inflation rate above 60,000%.

This has led to an extreme demand for the cryptocurrency; peer-to-peer exchange Localbitcoins shows Venezuela traders selling Bitcoin at rates of VEF 9 billion (USD 75,000) to VEF 19.5 Billion (USD 158,531). Despite these massive premiums and the cryptocurrency experiencing a correction of its own, Bitcoin is still a more attractive option than the fiat currency.

Such an extreme devaluation of the currency makes Venezuela a prime country to embrace Bitcoin wholeheartedly.

Argentina is in a similar situation and currently has the higher interest rate in the world (40%). Continually rising prices coupled with increasing unemployment rates makes Bitcoin a viable currency in this case, over the Argentine peso.

Cashless societies could also be primed for a crypto take over but cryptocurrency needs a lot of refinement before this could become a reality.

Contactless payment methods are already very convenient and with credit cards, even offer cashback rewards and customer protection. For cryptocurrency to penetrate markets like Canada, Sweden and the UK, digital currencies must not only offer similar characteristics but be much better than existing systems.

A good scaling solution needs to put in place as well, in order for Bitcoin (or whatever cryptocurrency a society adopts) to handle the number of transactions.

The third set of countries likely to adopt Bitcoin are the ones that are already open to cryptocurrency-related businesses, regulatory wise.

Countries that fall into this category include Japan, Estonia, Singapore, Australia, and South Korea. Sweden also goes into this category because despite its cashless society, recognizing Bitcoin as a legal form of payment.

Countries that are Bitcoin-friendly will typically have a higher percentage of citizens already exposed and actively using the cryptocurrency, making it far easier for Bitcoin to become widespread.

Being on welcoming turf also allows companies to come in and introduce new use case scenarios for the cryptocurrency, thus improving Bitcoin’s penetration rates.

Bitcoin is a fairly new currency and as more people begin to understand and classify it, more countries will become more receptive to the decentralized money. It will be interesting to see which country becomes to adopt Bitcoin as a dominant currency and if it’s from necessity, convenience or another reasons.


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Iranians Continue to Use Bitcoin Despite State Measures to Stifle Trade

Iranians are still using Bitcoin as a popular alternative to traditional currencies, despite anonymous reports coming in from Iran that the government has been stifling the trading of cryptocurrency since May 2018 by blocking important exchange websites.

Apparently, every single cryptocurrency exchange website is censored, including peer-to-peer trading hub Localbitcoins, and the government is using deep packet inspection so the sites can’t even be accessed with virtual private networks (VPNs), which change IP address and hide internet browsing.

Nevertheless, there are still plenty of active traders in Iran online on Localbitcoins, with several offering offline methods to buy or sell Bitcoin. CoinDance statistics on Localbitcoins also indicate little effect on trading volumes since May, with IRR 10.9 billion (USD 254,000) in Bitcoin exchanging hands in the last week of June.

As reported in a recent article on BitcoinNews, Iranians are looking to use cryptocurrency since the native Iranian fiat currency IRR is experiencing hyperinflation of 132% annually and growing rapidly. This hyperinflation crisis has been brought about by the United States pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, which will result in a full-scale blockade on Iran’s international finance activity and trading. Even the government of Iran has been considering cryptocurrency to bypass sanctions.

However, Director of the IranObserved Project at the Middle East Institute, Ahmad Kalid Majidyar, says, “President Rohani doesn’t want Iranians to transfer foreign currency, especially dollars, outside the country”.

Essentially, the Iranian government is worried that outflows of money from the country via cryptocurrency could accelerate the decline of the economy. One anonymous source says trading cryptocurrency with IRR is completely banned.

In December 2017, the regulator in charge of anti-money laundering policy in Iran issued a decree to the Central Bank that financial institutions cannot facilitate cryptocurrency activity. This is similar to the ban that is about to go into effect in India on 5 July 2018.

Trading of cryptocurrency continues in Iran despite all of this in the form of in-person fiat to crypto deals, that is, Bitcoin dealing. Due to the decentralized nature of cryptocurrency, even if cryptocurrency is completely banned there is no way to stop Bitcoin dealing.


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Iran Looks to Crypto Amid Hyperinflation, Looming Sanctions

The Iranian Rial (IRR) is experiencing a hyperinflation rate of 132% annually and rising rapidly according to calculations by Professor Steve Hanke of John Hopkins University. Now, the Iranian government and the Iranian people appear to be looking to use cryptocurrency as a safe haven as their native fiat currency weakens.

#Iran‘s annual inflation rate measured for today, 6/29/18, is 132%

— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) June 29, 2018

The rapid rise in inflation rate is mostly the result of the United States pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. Essentially, the deal was that Iran would stop producing nuclear weapons technology in exchange for the dropping of international sanctions. President Trump of the United States threw out the deal in May 2018, indicating that crippling financial sanctions against Iran would soon resume.

The sanctions will be a full embargo on all Iranian economic activity. No businesses or countries will be allowed to facilitate Iranian trade. The Iranian government could find cryptocurrency to be a good alternative since it is a decentralized system that provides cryptographically secure payments. Therefore, no government can stop Iran from buying or selling goods with cryptocurrency.

The Head of Iran’s Parliamentary Commission of Economic Affairs (ICPEA) says, “[IPCEA has already] obliged the Central Bank of Iran to start developing proposals for the use of cryptocurrency. Over the past year or two, the use of cryptocurrency has become an important issue. This is one of the good ways to bypass the use of the dollar, as well as the replacement of the SWIFT system. They [Russia] share our opinion. We said that if we manage to promote this work, then we will be the first countries that use cryptocurrency in the exchange of goods.”

Cryptocurrency is a potential safe haven as it more likely to maintain value and potentially go up significantly in the long term.


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Iran Sits on Fence over Crypto Adoption as Rial Nosedives

Ever since Iranian Parliamentary Commission for Economic Affairs chairman Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi declared recently that Iranians had moved USD 2.5 billion out of the country in cryptocurrency, the debate on digital currency has intensified, according to Cointelegraph.

In 2017, Iran began developing a local cryptocurrency which was launched earlier in May, although many are skeptical about its success. Venezuela and more recently, Russia, have expressed the merits of state-owned cryptocurrency as a possible sanction breaker.

The April announcement by Iran’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi that an experimental model of a state-run cryptocurrency was ready came as some surprise, given Iran’s current status regarding the trading of cryptocurrencies.

Iran’s Central Bank currently has a ban on cryptocurrency trading and stated recently:

“All branches of banks, credit institutions, and currency exchanges should stay clear of any sale or purchase of these currencies and avoid undertakings that facilitate or promote such currencies. Action will be taken against those who contravene the regulations.”

The current stance on cryptocurrency is very much seen as a government move to further regulate its fiat currency markets due to a slide in the value of the rial, Iran’s national currency. According to MENAfn, the rial has been nose-diving, mainly due to the threat of new US sanctions after President Trump’s recent withdrawal from the nuclear arms deal.

The financial situation is also exacerbated by a fear of an impending economic crisis and shrinking oil exports. As a result, Iran has now lowered the official value of the rial to 42,060 to the USD dollar with warnings that it could fall as much as 6% in the next fiscal year.

Another mitigating factor in the current ban on cryptocurrency is the relationship between the Iranian government and Islamic law. European University at Saint Petersburg senior lecturer of political economy Nikolay Kozhanov, an expert on Iranian external affairs, suggests:

“Iran is governed in accordance with Islamic laws, which heavily regulate the banking sphere. In general, Islamic economists ban everything that is not created by work. You cannot make ‘profit out of thin air’. To my understanding, to a certain extent, cryptocurrencies fall into that category.”

Iranian blockchain developer Arame Bandari feels that despite these difficulties, the country has kept pace with global developments, saying “…Iran has faced various type of sanctions during last 40 years, but you should consider that the Iranian young educated population has always adapted to the latest technological developments.”

However, he is quick to claim that further development of new technology has been aided by his government’s current position which seeks to promote education and tech development.

“During [the] last five years, we have witnessed a lot of good governmental support toward knowledge-based economy and we’ve observed that plenty of knowledge/technology-based SMEs [small to medium enterprises] have flourished.”

Cryptocurrency continues to be on standby, but given renewed sanctions, Iran may be forced to review its position regarding the future of the underlying technology and utilize its benefits.


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Iran and Russia Join Crypto Chess Against US Dollar as Sanctions Loom

Both Iran and Russia have similar views on bypassing using the US dollar in favor of cryptocurrency in light of sanctions, reports Trustnodes. This is based on comments made by Mohammad Reza Purebrakhimi, the head of the commission for economic affairs of the Assembly of the Islamic Council (Parliament) of Iran, as reported by Interfax.

In a meeting with Russia’s head of the Federation Council Committee on Economic Policy Dmitry Mezentsev, Purebrakhimi suggested that the subject of cryptocurrency has been raised over the past year as a way of avoiding both the US dollar and the SWIFT banking system. To that end, the Central bank of Iran has been instructed by the Iranian government to begin the process of “developing proposals for using cryptocurrency”.

Purebrakhimi had discussed such moves with Russia’s lower house of Parliament, the State Duma’s Committee on Economic Policy, prior to the statement.

“They [Russia] share our opinion that if we manage to promote this work, then we will be the first countries that use the cryptocurrency in the exchange of goods,” Purebrakhimi said, according to a rough translation.

Russia had already stated earlier this month that its own clearing and payment system for banks, developed in 2014 as an alternative to SWIFT, is to run on blockchain by 2019 according to local media. This after suggestions they may be cut off from it due to sanctions. Russian daily Izvestiya reported:

“In 2019, the Central Bank will transfer the Financial Communications Transfer System (SPFS) – the Russian equivalent of SWIFT – to the blockchain system.” (translated)

Iran suggests that its own cryptocurrency is likely to be a tokenized bond similar to the Venezuelan Petro and must be viewed as a timely adoption in the context of a potential reinstatement of sanctions by the US after its recent withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Russian itself has made numerous references to adopting a state cryptocurrency under President Vladimir Putin. Just recently, the Financial Times reported that his economic advisor Sergei Glazev declared that cryptocurrency could be used to carry out “sensitive” state activities: “We can settle accounts with our counterparties all over the world with no regard for sanctions.”

Apart from such proposals as using cryptocurrency at the highest state level, the government is still highly regulating public use of digital currency. A new bill is being worked on within the Russian government, that would have cryptocurrency trading and mining banned entirely unless a person enters a list of approved individuals. According to Coindesk, crypto and digital tokens will only be traded on authorized exchanges complying with AML and counter-terrorism financing regulations.


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Iranians Look to Bitcoin After Trump Decision

Iranians have sent more than USD 2.5 billion out of the country for the purchase of cryptocurrencies. The revelation was made by Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi, Iran’s Chairman of the Economic Commission of the Parliament, moments after US president Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal yesterday, according to Nasdaq.

As Forbes reported, this demonstrates how, when nations are confronted with issues which could drastically impact the future of the economy, some of the population look for financial refuge overseas. On this occasion, Bitcoin appears to be the haven of choice.

Iran had already anticipated the effect of Trump taking the US out of the deal which is shared by P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States — plus Germany.

In 2017, Iran began developing a local cryptocurrency which was launched earlier in May, although many are skeptical about its success. Venezuela and more recently, Russia, have expressed the merits of state-owned cryptocurrency as a possible sanction breaker. It is one reason for Iran’s original interest although, with the latest developments, the government plan could regain real momentum.

An Iranian living in the US spoke anonymously to Forbes, saying that his parents had tried to send him Bitcoin. It has been banned under current Iranian legislation since April — although it still possible to purchase cryptocurrencies using discrete methods.

“With exchange offices closed, sanctions and the [Iranian] rial dropping like crazy it seems like a good idea to use Bitcoin. I know that there are a few people selling and buying Bitcoin in Iran with LocalBitcoins. For now, it seems like Bitcoin is literally the only way to get money out of the country, so I’m sure more people will be inclined to use it, but with the rampant inflation of the Iranian rial a lot of people won’t be able to afford it,” said Forbes’s source.

Nasdaq suggests that with recent developments and the potential emergence of a national cryptocurrency, as well as with Iranians trading abroad, cryptocurrency could become prominent in Iran. Bitcoin’s overnight bounce after Trump’s announcement yesterday demonstrates that alternative currency markets can have a profound impact in times of economic threat and could become a veritable safe haven.


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Iranian Government Debate Banning Telegram App Over Recent ICO

Prominent figures in the Iranian government are set to debate the possible ban on popular messaging app Telegram, under the pretext that the recent initial coin offering (ICO) from the company threatens the national currency.

Telegram in Iran

Telegram recently held a record-breaking ICO, so far raising USD 1.7 billion that will be invested into developing a decentralized blockchain digital communication platform powered by their new native token, Gram.

Iran is a popular location for Telegram users. The government has condemned the app as posing a national security threat, however, saying it played a large part in organizing the political protest in the country in December 2017.

Secretary of the High Council for Cybersecurity of Iran, Hassan Firouzabadi, has supported a ban of Telegram, noting what he perceives as the danger of widespread cryptocurrency adoption in the country.

US news outlet A-Monitor reported  Firouzabadi as calling Telegram an ”enemy of the private sector”, claiming that the company refused to have an office in Iran, or cooperate with the country’s private sector. He continued by stating ”Telegram will undermine the national currency of Iran”.

The argument of government officials opposing the introduction of the Gram currency is reportedly their concern that the virtual currency has a lifetime of just ten years. In this time, they predict USD 50 billion would be withdrawn from the country, leading to what they believe will be mass protests when the currency declines.

As well as this, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called for an investment into cheaply-priced Iranian messaging applications. Speaking to a local news outlet, Rouhani emphasized ”creating and enhancing Iranian software and messaging apps” while preventing Telegram from becoming a messaging app monopoly.

February saw the Central Bank of Iran retract its previous more crypto-friendly stance, now looking to control and prevent cryptocurrency adoption in the country.

The Iranian government has given a number of reasons for banning Telegram in Iran, although critics believe the primary reason they want the ban is to prevent more political protests erupting easily as in December 2017.



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