The central bank of Iran has banned domestic banks and other financial institutions from dealing in cryptocurrencies, claiming that the digital currency is being used for money-laundering, and also in an attempt to halt an emerging currency crisis.
The Iranian State News Agency, IRNA, reported the news two weeks ago, quoting a quoting an apparent leaked central bank document from Iran’s anti-money laundering body.
“Banks and credit institutions and currency exchanges should avoid any sale or purchase of these currencies or taking any action to promote them”, the IRNA report said. A leak from another source quoted by Coin Telegraph, said that: “All cryptocurrencies have the capacity to be turned into a means for money-laundering and financing terrorism and in general can be turned into a means for transferring criminals’ money”.
Raft of measures
The ban has been implemented alongside several other fiscal measures implemented by the Iranian government in recent weeks including the banning of any and all money being allowed to be changed outside of official banking institutions.
Support the Rial
The moves have been made by Iran to try and shore up its national currency, the Rial, which in recent times has hit all time lows. The imminent likelihood that the USA is likely to re-apply economic sanctions on the country has also had an effect.
Digital currency launch?
That would however not appear to be the full story. The move to ban trading in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, may also just be Iran’s opening gambit in launching its own national digital currency, similar to that launched by Venezuela, the Petro last year.
In February, Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, tweeted that the country’s state-run banks would be seeking to develop their own digital coins.
Time will tell how successful such a move will be, but with no other competing currencies to worry about, a domestically launched digital currency would probably succeed.