Iran plans use of cryptocurrency to ease sanctions

Published September 17, 2021
Representations of the virtual currency Bitcoin stand on a motherboard in this picture illustration taken May 20. — Reuters
Representations of the virtual currency Bitcoin stand on a motherboard in this picture illustration taken May 20. — Reuters

TEHRAN: An Iranian official has suggested that cryptocurrencies could be used to overcome problems related to international sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic.

“We cannot remain indifferent to the phenomenon” of cryptocurrencies, Gholamreza Marhaba, spokesman of the economic commission at Iran’s parliament, said.

“The transfer of money through cryptocurrencies could be a means to circumvent sanctions and ease their effects” on the economy, he said according to the official ISNA news agency.

He was speaking as parliament discussed a report outlining the size of the cryptocurrency market in Iran and how best to use the technology. Around 700 bitcoins are traded daily in Iran, according to the report.

Likewise, the report said, 19,500 bitcoins are mined annually in Iran, compared with 324,000 around the world. “Good management of cryptocurrencies could created opportunities for (Iran’s) economy,” Marhaba said.

Iran was among the first countries in the world to legalise the mining of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies in September 2018.

But in May, then president Hassan Rouhani announced a four-month ban on all cryptocurrency mining after nationwide power cuts.

Profitably creating, or mining, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies requires masses of computers dedicated to solving deliberately complicated equations — an endeavour that globally consumes more electricity than entire nations.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021

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