In many ways, Iran is similar to Venezuela in its relevance to the cryptocurrency and blockchain global scene. The second country has gained both fame and notoriety for its development and introduction of petro, a government-issued cryptocurrency. This created an atmosphere of both excitement and condemnation about the general state of the Venezuelan politics and its economy.
However, Iran has also been often mentioned often in the cryptocurrency-focused media over the past years, although for a completely different reason. The nation, which finds itself once again confronting the US, has been connected to several big crypto issues, including mining, the use of digital currencies as a way of circumventing sanctions and its beneficial economic climate for crypto miners.
Its role in the upcoming period will likely be even bigger as it proactively looks for a way to become a relevant state in this regard – which some believe has malicious intent behind it. Here are some of the most important facts about this process and where it could take not just Iran, but also other countries connected with it.
The Russian Model
Connecting Venezuela, Iran and Russia, at least according to many Western diplomats, has a strong and logical geopolitical undercurrent in a range of areas, including cryptocurrencies. There is a lot of evidence pointing towards Russia investing in petro soon after it hit the markets. In regards to Iran, the ties are less apparent or talked about, but one can easily compare Teheran’s approach to crypto and see similarities in the Russian government’s attitude towards the same domain.
Over the previous year, Iran has been both adamant on cryptocurrency user regulation or even total suppression, which was often followed by praises about the potential of its technology. Recently, the same cycle appeared once again and now, the narrative seems to be in the positive sphere.
Blockchain Tech as a Way of Advancement
Alireza Daliri, who is the Iranian head of management development department of the vice presidency for science and technology, stated that the tech of blockchain could boost the national economic outlook. Daliri said that the process could take place through the use of the infrastructure based on the blockchain tech.
The same process would encompass both the governor and Iran’s private sector. He also explained that Iran should cooperate with other nations who are developing this technology and together find ways how the emerging tech could be both harnessed and improved. Interestingly, the announcement also came with some direct reference to the negative crypto atmosphere that envelops the corridors of power in Teheran from time to time.
Daliri underlined that the concerns about this tech do not represent the true state of crypto, where its benefits and capabilities far out way any potential dangers they might bring. More directly, he explained that vice presidency for science and technology could begin to use blockchain in different domains in the coming period, but did not specify any exact dates.
A Track Record of Development
Daliri is not an unknown figure in the Iranian government. Back in July, he announced that Tehran is completing the groundwork process of creating a digital currency in the country. The same cryptocurrency would be based on a token that represents the nation’s fiat – the Iranian Rial. The purpose of this would be to facilitate cross-border and domestic transactions that would be able to counter the US sanctions.
Yet, many point to the fact that the internal use of domestic cryptocurrency would be more important, as it would allow many who lack access to traditional financial services some form financial structure. At the same time, US expressed repeatedly its concern that Iran is using the blockchain tech for this very purpose even before the announcement was made. However, the US politicians were also quick to raise concerns that any number of existing cryptocurrencies could be used for the same purpose, including bitcoin.
The conclusion was, like it usually is in the US foreign policy of the current administration, that Iran could be plotting some nefarious activity, even though there is no clear line that connects this premise with the actual developments in the Asian nation. Although, it is also evident that Teheran is not willing to find a conciliatory tone and is instead antagonizing the US on every possible occasion.
The sanctions that made their way back between the US and Iran have also impacted the cryptocurrency domain. Binance was forced to remove all of its Iranian users to comply with the sanctions. Recently, the US Department of Treasury added crypto addresses for the first time blacklisting two individuals from the country. There is no way to know what other effects these might have or what additional elements they could include in 2019.
One thing is sure – Iran is used to heavy hits from practically all directions and crypto is no different. So far, the sanctions failed to actually stop or impact anything substantially, except for the slowdown of the booming Iranian economy after the Obama administration made its historic deal in 2015. Now, in many ways, the business is back to normal for Teheran, which saw a multitude of its governments come about and go away in the shadow of the sanctions.
The Year to Come
Iran is undoubtedly an important factor in the regional cryptocurrency development and trading scene. As with esports, online-based education and many other digital ventures, Iran has a young population that is hungry for change and profits, possibly in equal measure.
Additionally, its electricity costs about $0.006 per a single kilowatt-hour, making it interesting for possible cryptocurrency mining operations. All of this points to the high likelihood that Iran will continue to develop its digital currency scene regardless of the government’s initiative. Currently, similar to nearby India, it is likely that the entrepreneurs and the developers simply want to be left alone by the government.
However, the big news of 2019 in Iran’s crypto section could be the development of the local cryptocurrency – this would create ripples many times larger than those seen after petro was launched. Yet, this will also likely bring the idea of the US, making the entire process a bittersweet potential venture for Teheran.