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Iran to Regulate Crypto Mining Industry via Licenses

A draft proposal for an Iran crypto mining license is being reviewed by the central bank.

Cryptocurrency mining has proliferated in Iran over the last two years due to state-subsidized electricity. Essentially, electricity is one of the most important factors in determining whether a cryptocurrency mining operation is profitable, and in Iran, electricity is cheaper than in most other places in the world.

In July, the Central Bank of Iran recognized the burgeoning cryptocurrency mining industry and promised to legalize it and regulate it. Essentially, miners will have to get their license renewed every year, and will have to disclose all of the details about the mining operation. At this time, it is undisclosed as to how much the license will cost.

This is perhaps good news for cryptocurrency miners in Iran, since the government is taking the route of regulating it instead of making it illegal. However, it is expected that there will still be numerous underground mining operations even after the license is available, since some people will prefer to stay anonymous and not pay taxes. It remains to be seen how the state will enforce the new regulations for an Iran crypto mining license. is committed to unbiased news and upholding journalistic codes of ethics. For more information please read our Editorial Policy here.

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National Cryptocurrencies May Be the Way of the Future, but They Are Not Gaining Much Traction Yet

National Cryptocurrencies May Be The Way Of The Future, But They Are Not Gaining Much Traction Yet

Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, is valuable because it is secure, immutable, irreversible, and decentralized. Another interesting thing about Bitcoin is that its code is open-source, meaning developers can take the original Bitcoin code and modify it, and this is precisely how most alternative cryptocurrencies come into existence. Now imagine if the government of a country decides to modify Bitcoin’s code and launch a national cryptocurrency. This would be a much easier way of creating a financial system than building one from scratch, since a properly built cryptocurrency prevents counterfeiting, fraud, and corruption, and also has low maintenance costs versus a physical fiat cash system. Therefore, a government-backed national cryptocurrency could theoretically be quite beneficial, whether it is used in addition to or in replacement of the national fiat currency.

Perhaps the most intriguing example of an attempt at a national cryptocurrency comes from the Marshall Islands, a country consisting of an archipelago of islands and 53,000 people just north of the equator in the Pacific. The Marshall Islands has a long history of colonization, and it passed through the hands of Spain, Germany, Japan, and eventually the United States after the defeat of Japan in World War II. The United States detonated 67 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands for testing purpose, permanently ruining several islands and causing discontent among natives.

The Marshall Islands finally became their own country in 1979, but they are not completely independent. The Marshall Islands still depends on the United States military for defense and the United States postal service for mail, in addition to trade and subsidies.

Also, the Marshall Islands’ official fiat currency is the United States Dollar, and that is where cryptocurrency comes in. The President of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine, has been pushing for a national cryptocurrency called the Sovereign (SOV) so that the Marshall Islands can become less dependent on the United States. This landed Heine in hot water with the Marshallese Parliament, which tried to impeach her, as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which threatened to cut off the Marshall Islands.

Heine prevailed however and has kept her job as president, and is proceeding with the launch of the Sovereign (SOV), although it is unknown exactly when the cryptocurrency will launch.

That being said, there are some signs that the Sovereign (SOV) may not be an ideal cryptocurrency. The Sovereign Currency Act of 2018 indicates that at first 24 million Sovereign (SOV) will be sold via an initial coin offering (ICO), after which point there will be 4% inflation per year. This seems to indicate that the Marshall Islands will make some quick cash during the Sovereign (SOV) ICO, and then will persistently print new Sovereign (SOV) and dump them onto the market long term, which would probably suppress the value of the Sovereign (SOV).

More specifically, the Israeli company Neema which is helping to launch the Sovereign (SOV) will buy 12 million during the ICO, with 6 million sold to international investors, and 2.4 million handed out to natives of the islands. There are concerns over giving half of the Sovereign (SOV) supply to a private company, and a quarter of the currency to wealthy people who do not even live in the Marshall Islands, but apparently the Marshall Islands urgently needs the cash.

A country like the Marshall Islands could easily adopt Bitcoin as its national cryptocurrency, and it would probably work out better long term than a centralized cryptocurrency like the Sovereign (SOV) which will be unfairly distributed from the beginning and can be printed at will. It can be speculated that the Marshall Islands is opting to make their own cryptocurrency to make quick money, like any other ICO.

Venezuela is perhaps the most prominent example of a country which has launched a national cryptocurrency. The fiat currency of Venezuela, the Bolivar, has been hyperinflating for years and is now essentially worthless, as shown by how the price of a cup of coffee has gone from 14 Bolivars to 7,000 Bolivars in a year according to the Cafe Con Leche Index.

This has motivated the government of Venezuela to launch the Petro cryptocurrency, which is supposedly backed by oil reserves, gold, diamond, and iron, although no evidence of these reserves has ever been published, and it can be speculated that the Petro is backed by nothing. Indeed, the Venezuelan government fixes the value of the Petro relative to the Bolivar, like in November when the value of a Petro was raised from 3,600 Bolivars to 9,000 Bolivars, indicating that the Petro does not have a free market value.

The use of the Petro has been severely limited internationally after the United States declared Petro to be illegal in March 2018. Further, there are no signs that the Petro has been adopted, aside from government attempts to force citizens to adopt the Petro by only allowing passports to be purchased with Petro and not Bolivars. Apparently, it is difficult to obtain Petro, and even more difficult to trade it.

In this case, it is clear that Venezuela is in desperate need of a new currency, considering the collapse of the Bolivar, and cryptocurrency would be an excellent solution. However, the Petro appears to have just been a way for the government to make quick cash via the ICO, and since then the Petro has had no benefit for the Venezuelan economy. If Venezuela adopted Bitcoin as its national cryptocurrency they would likely be in a much better situation.

Senegal and Tunisia are two countries which have successfully launched government-backed cryptocurrencies, named the eCFA and eDinar respectively. These cryptocurrencies are essentially the same as the national fiat currency, except in cryptocurrency format. The benefit of this is it provides a more secure digital form of the fiat currency and can be sent anywhere in the world instantly and exchanged, possibly enhancing international trade. That being said, in recent years there is not any news regarding the success of the eCFA or eDinar.

Aside from the countries discussed so far, Iran is planning on launching a national cryptocurrency to circumvent United States sanctions, but just like the Petro, this Iranian cryptocurrency will likely be declared illegal which would cripple its potential to be used for international trade.

All things considered, a government-backed national cryptocurrency could be quite beneficial since it would be highly secure, prevent counterfeiting, enhance international trade, and would be much cheaper to operate than a physical cash system. However, there have been no truly successful national cryptocurrencies yet. Venezuela’s Petro ended up being a cash grab and did no noticeable good for the Venezuelan economy, and there are signs that the Marshall Islands cryptocurrency, which has not launched yet, could be a cash grab as well. Senegal and Tunisia technically have national cryptocurrencies, but they are just a digital version of those country’s fiat currencies.

Perhaps in the future, a country will launch a successful national cryptocurrency. That being said, Bitcoin is far better than any centralized national cryptocurrency ever could be, and if a government was truly concerned with the welfare of their people they would simply adopt Bitcoin. is committed to unbiased news and upholding journalistic codes of ethics. For more information please read our Editorial Policy here.

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Dysfunctional States And State Crypto

Dysfunctional States And State Crypto (1)

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said that cryptocurrency will never replace a government’s sovereign currency.

Le Maire’s comments were made in the light of growing concerns by regulators over Facebook’s intended launch of its own cryptocurrency in 2020. Mark Carney, Governor, Bank of England also said that the new digital currency will be under scrutiny to ensure it is not used for illegal purposes. Le Maire argued that financial sovereignty must come from government, commenting, “The aspect of sovereignty must stay in the hands of states and not private companies which respond to private interests.”

Looking at the three rogue states which have considered doing just that, he may well have a point. Venezuela remains the most prominent example of a misguided attempt by those in power to support the economy using a government-initiated cryptocurrency or state crypto. Russia and Iran have also dabbled in state crypto in attempts to overcome sanctions.

Both Venezuela’s Petro and Petro Gold, based on the South American country’s oil and gold reserves, have done little to stem the tide of hyperinflation which currently is running at a staggering 99,900% although down from 224,900% at the end of last year. Launched in February 2018, the Petro was supposed to be backed by the country’s oil and mineral reserves and was intended to supplement Venezuela’s plummeting bolívar fuerte currency (VEF), as a means of circumventing US sanctions and accessing international financing.

To illustrate the level of the country’s economic woes, Venezuela’s highest denomination, VEF 500, when initially issued in August 2018, was equal in value to USD 8.30. Today it is worth no more than seven cents. This week new 50,000 bolivar Soberano (VES) banknotes have been released (equal to USD 8.09 at time of writing) along with two other notes, in an attempt to stem the tide for at least the next few months.

The latest plan is to use the Petro, currently equal in value to VES 80,000, to prop up the currency. Venezuelan President Madura claims that linked to the Petro the new notes will hold their value, but among the population, such claims fall on deaf ears, with the average monthly income for most Venezuelan households now VES 40,000 (USD 6.55). To date, the Petro has been largely invisible.

It remains a disappointment to genuine cryptocurrency enthusiasts that rogue states use cryptocurrency as a go-to solution to tackle economic mismanagement or punitive sanctions. Both Russia and Iran are currently movers and shakers on the world stage for all the wrong reasons, both accused of government-sponsored acts of terrorism in the last 12 months. Both countries have strict laws prohibiting the use of cryptocurrencies but flirt with the technology at the state level.

Russia’s latest flirt with crypto is current research being undertaken by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) to develop a gold backed cryptocurrency, an idea clearly finding its origins in Iran’s own proposed gold-backed cryptocurrency known as ‘PayMon’. Reports claim that four Iranian banks including Bank Melli, Parsian Bank, Bank Mellat and Bank Pasargad have joined hands with blockchain startup Kuknos for PayMon. Previously, in July 2018, reports came out claiming that Iran was looking to launch its own national cryptocurrency.

Iran sees cryptocurrencies as a mean to bypass new economic sanctions imposed on it by the US government. The new cryptocurrency is expected to back and tokenize Iran’s national fiat currency, the rial. Thereby, cross-border and domestic transactions will be facilitated.

Vladimir Gutenev, a member of the Russian State Duma, submitted plans for its own gold-backed cryptocurrency in August 2018; a plan which was subsequently shelved. Russia’s former Minister of Economics and Trade, Herman Gref, also spoke out last year in favor of cryptocurrencies and their transformational nature as a future threat to the financial sector’s status quo. It now appears Gutenev’s plan is back on the table. The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) is now looking at the proposal for a gold-backed stablecoin but makes it clear that it has no plans in the future to replace the rouble with an alternative state-run cryptocurrency.

To date, without any proven successes in state-run cryptocurrency, Le Maire’s suggestion that cryptocurrency will never replace government sovereign currencies seems to ring true, at least in the near future. The current example of Venezuela’s Petro adventure is not one to encourage finance ministers around the globe to anticipate any changes to the status quo, nor is the track record on the international stage of those that propose to do so. At least not yet, for now. It remains to be seen how well cryptocurrency fares in the hands of private companies who maintain that they are responding to private interests, and to that end, all eyes are on Facebook.


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Iran Wants to Charge Bitcoin Miners “Real Price” for Power

Iran may soon ask Iran Bitcoin mining operators to pay the full price of electricity, if a report by the Financial Tribune is accurate.

According to the report, Iran’s Minister of Energy Homayoun Haeri has said that crypto miners operating from Iran should be paying “real prices and not be subsidized by the government”.

The state reportedly has an energy subsidy of about USD 1 billion, translating to Iranians paying only a small fraction of the actual cost to produce the electricity. A government prohibition has been extended to the mining and trading of crypto like Bitcoin, yet these activities have continued to grow, especially since power is cheap in Iran.

US imposed sanctions are making Bitcoin even more attractive, as it has proven to be a useful asset to mine and trade, and then send to or receive from overseas. Bitcoin News has written about how Iranian students in the UK are successfully using Bitcoin to overcome sanctions that have limited their banking and remittance options. Last year, the US government attempted to sanction Bitcoin addresses owned by Iranian nationals; their attempts were predictably mocked online.

A CoinDesk report describes how blockchain researcher Nima Dehqan has accepted visitors from Armenia, France, Spain and Ukraine to his crypto farms in Iran and has already entered an agreement with a Spanish investor to build a new mining farm in Iran. There have also been other reports online of how older mining rigs are being fired up in Iran, as cheaper power can offset the lower yields from older mining rigs.

Dehqan had explained that foreign interest in Iran Bitcoin mining is driven foremost by the low price of Iran power, which is not even USD 0.01 per kilowatt-hour.


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Pavel Durov Meditates and Fasts for a Better Telegram

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Pavel Durov, best known for being the founder of the social networking site VK and Telegram Messenger, is looking inwards to search for answers to help him improve Telegram.

To those who know the CEO of the encrypted messenger service, this perhaps won’t come as a surprise as his clean living has been well documented elsewhere. According to Durov, he’s been caffeine, meat, drugs, alcohol and fast food liberated for the past 15 years.

The Russian tech entrepreneur in self-imposed exile now plans to forgo food altogether in order to get the answers he’s looking for to improve Telegram even further after Russian authorities demanded the keys to his users’ private data- which he is still holding.

HVMN CEO Geoffrey Woo maintains that’s not such a bad idea- of course, there will be a limit on how long Durov can go without nutrition. Woo says, “Ketones are a super-fuel for the brain…So a lot of the subjective benefits to fasting, including mental clarity, are down to the rise in ketones in the system.”

So, what does Durov have to say on his latest plan to get to grips with tech and come up with the next big thing?

“This month I’m trying something more radical, with consuming no food at all…”I’ve been on a water fast for the last six days and am feeling great so far. Since zero food consumption improves the clarity of thought, I also got many things done on the product management side.”

Durov claims that as a result of the liquid diet, he will come up with “new great ideas for Telegram” which will benefit his millions of followers.

Telegram is well known for its high-end encryption model as well as for being the go-to app for crypto-related community building. It was involved in a seed funding round where it raised USD 1.7 billion, notably one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns of 2018. Both Russia and Iran have adopted a punitive stance towards the messaging app over recent months

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LocalBitcoins Imposes Restrictions on Accounts Based in Iran

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As a fallout from the recent US-Iran tensions, a major peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange, LocalBitcoins, has banned all its users based in Iran per their website.

A response by LocalBitcoins to an Iranian user circulated in social media and local news websites read as follows, “If you have an account already, you will be able to withdraw your bitcoins, but you will not be able to use the platform for trading.”

The following message appeared on the platform’s Iran country page, “Unfortunately, LocalBitcoins is currently not available in your selected region.” On Twitter, the company told several Iranian users: “Our services are not available in your region for risk-based reasons.”

The official reason cited by the exchange behind the restriction for the Iranians was to comply with financial regulations in Finland, where the exchange’s headquarters are located. But it is clear that this is a move to avoid a ban by the US, similar to the one faced by many crypto exchanges as a result of their dealings with Iran.

This is also in line with the decision of many other crypto exchanges such as Coinbase and Binance, which also don’t support users living in Iran.

LocalBitcoins was particularly popular in Iran because the platform didn’t require a credit card or online payment method, meaning that Iranian users who didn’t have an international bank account due to the restrictions could still buy and trade crypto. This was one of the reasons why there was a massive trend of rising rial trading volumes on the platform in recent weeks.

In a bid to circumvent these sanctions, Iran reportedly was planning to launch its own cryptocurrency at the start of this year, but nothing on that front has been officially confirmed as yet.

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Central Bank of Iran Trails Blockchain to Revamp Financial System

Central Bank of Iran Trails Blockchain to Revamp Financial System

The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran aims for blockchain inclusion economy for the country’s financial system, as reported by news outlet AL-MONITOR.

According to the report, in the past year, the Central Bank, through its technology division the Informatics Services Corporation, in partnership with blockchain solutions firm Areatak, has been developing a nation-wide blockchain platform dubbed Borna. Built on the Hyperledger Fabric, the platform will onboard other banks and financial institutions to bring about seamless transactions and financial service operations.

The core principle embedded in the Borna platform is to enable the Central Bank to communicate seamlessly with other banks and financial institutions and implement directives through smart contract technology. More so, the platform is expected to reduce the effective cost of developing blockchain solutions by participating stakeholders.

The source citing the Borna whitepaper said the platform has two distinct layers. A noncompetitive layer handles know your customer (KYC) operations, token management, and online auditing services, while a competitive layer allows financial players to “offer an array of services” to include “accepting deposits, offering loans, commercial financing, and asset management”.

It appears Borna has a political incentive for developing the platform on the Hyperledger architecture, as it will enable them to connect with international allies in the future without being crippled by US sanctions.

Further, another major milestone for the Central Bank will be to issue a sovereign rial-backed cryptocurrency to facilitate transparency during local transactions. This cryptocurrency may as well be integrated to the Borna platform, the source indicated.

Earlier this year, the Central Bank of Iran released a draft on cryptocurrency regulations, thereby slightly lifting a blanket-ban it had previously placed on the emerging asset class – allowing for trading of the digital asset class but prohibiting its use as a medium of exchange within the walls of the Islamic country.

On the subject of blockchain development in Iran, there appears to be sufficient evidence the financial system is receptive of the blockchain industry and continues to drive initiatives towards an inclusive global blockchain economy. In February, Bitcoin News reported four Iranian banks working with blockchain startup Kuknos to develop a gold-backed cryptocurrency.


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Chinese Miners Struggle for Easy Ride in Iran

Things aren’t turning out to be smooth for Chinese Bitcoin miners heading into Iran to profit from cheaper electricity rates.

Long before China hinted it may consider halting Bitcoin mining projects, the exodus began and Iran recently became a hotspot for miners along with parts of South East Asia such as Vietnam and Cambodia. China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is now looking to siphon off a number of industries which include cryptocurrency mining as part of a state cleanup.

The Iranian venture for many of those Chinese miners deciding to make the move has gone sour, and reports coming back from Iran highlight some of the issues which have made the Middle East less attractive than was at first perceived.

One issue has been getting the equipment across the Iranian border. One miner Liu Feng reported that the chance of losing equipment at the border has become common, with Iranian customs confiscating at least 40,000 crypto mining rigs to date. Some rigs can be sneaked through if presented as non-mining processors for those lucky enough to be able to strike up a deal with customs officials. Feng explains the reason for the confiscations:

“Because of [Iran’s] huge electricity subsidy, the government has added this energy-hungry device (bitcoin miner) to the list of 2,000 banned shipments to come in.”

The same mining enthusiast, Lui Feng also had problems pricing his electricity supply with a local supplier after his supply tariff was doubled just two months into operation. A subsequent set up resulted in angry locals complaining about the noise emitted from his rigs, resulting in miners being confiscated.

Despite these hurdles, Chinese Bitcoin miners are still optimistic that it can get better for them in Iran. With the Iranian government now accepting crypto mining as a legal activity, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is behind a new cloud computing industrial park. Also, there are rumors that Tehran may get behind the import of Bitcoin mining hardware.

Currently, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are still detaining or confiscating machines at border points with tough import rules still in place.

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Iranians Still Back Bitcoin, US Treasury Tightens Stranglehold

Iranians Still Back Bitcoin, US Treasury Tightens Stranglehold

As US sanctions continue to bite in Iran, Bitcoin and Bitcoin mining continue to serve as alternatives to circumvent banking institutions. However, these activities are now firmly under the US radar.

Many Iranians have adopted the digital currency both in their own country and overseas to sidestep economic sanctions. The UK, traditionally a long-time favorite location for students, has also been hit. In November, SWIFT suspended several Iranian banks from its service after the imposition of United States nuclear sanctions on Tehran. This has resulted in difficulties for Iranian students in the UK when obtaining cash.

Many universities are now advising students to return to Iran and return back to the UK with sufficient cash funds to pay for courses and living expenses. Consequently, some Iranian students have turned to Bitcoin, obtaining their fiat funds through crypto exchanges.

The latest problem for Iranian Bitcoin users, many of then students, is that the sanctions are now extending their reach to certain providers. International crypto exchanges, including Bittrex and Binance, have also begun complying with the sanctions against Iran and have stopped dealing with Iranian clients.

The US Treasury is now warning digital marketplaces that either conduct Bitcoin business or sell computers for potential mining that they must stop providing services to Iranians, well aware that Bitcoin is being used in order to circumvent sanctions.

One Iranian miner speaking to the New York Times from a desert location outside of Tehran, explained that even using outdated Chinese A9Antminers has a purpose. “I guess this is the last place on earth where they are still profitable,” said the operator, wishing to remain anonymous. “We’ll have two engineers on site to keep everything running, that’s it,” said Behzad, CEO of IranAsic, the company running the site.

Such farms are popping up around the country aided by generous government power subsidies for electricity which is already cheap compared to the US and Europe. So cheap, it is now drawing interest from investors in Europe, Russia, and Asia.


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Iran Central Bank Puts Pressure on Bitcoin Payments

Iran Central Bank Puts Pressure on Bitcoin Payments

A new plan released today indicates that the Central Bank of Iran is to block the use of unapproved cryptocurrencies as a means of payment.

The new report entitled “Obligations and Rules Regarding Cryptocurrencies” was released by the central bank claiming that “any cryptocurrency wallets will be used only for holding and transferring cryptocurrencies and integrating any kind of services in wallets using cryptocurrencies is forbidden”.

As the description is quite vague, it is currently not clear what will constitute unapproved cryptocurrencies under the new Central Bank rules although it has been indicated that regulators are looking for all Bitcoin transactions to be settled in Iran’s national currency, the rial.

Although once this is clarified such cryptocurrencies won’t be able to be used as a mean of payment it won’t stop users holding or transferring them, providing they fall into the category of being approved. The report also targets Iranians holding cryptocurrencies, suggesting that if the bill is passed they could be restricted to holding large amounts of cryptocurrency in the same way they are restricted to fiat maximum. The current limit in Iran is EUR 10,000 outside of their normal accounts.

Local sources claim that the measures are aimed at protecting the struggling rial from more competition. In 2018, the rial lost a staggering 60% of its value due to Iran being hit by further swingeing sanctions from the US. This despite the International Atomic Energy Agency indicating that it had been complying with the restrictions to its nuclear program laid down in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iran has seen P2P website volume rocketing in times of unrest, such as during the government protests in late 2017 and then again recently after the abandonment of the 2015 nuclear deal by the US.

Another indication of a tightening of the rules which surround Iran’s crypto community is the new requirement for exchanges to seek licenses before doing business, although as yet this hasn’t been enforced and has no projected launch date.


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