Iran presses for development of local cryptocurrency

Iran presses for development of local cryptocurrency

As darkness looms over the future of its nuclear deal with the United States, it appears that Iranian government is still going ahead with a major project that will pave for the country’s own cryptocurrency in the not too distant future.

This is despite the recent Central Bank of Iran ban on local banks from engaging in any cryptocurrency-related activities. The order stemmed from fears of money laundering possibilities due to the ongoing spectre of possible sanctions that might reappear if the nuclear deal falls through, according to the reports.

The measures, however, will not have any undue effect on the country’s cryptocurrency project. Speaking to the country’s state news agency IRNA, Iran’s Information and Communications Technology Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi indicated that the central bank’s ban would not have any effect on the project.

“The central bank’s ban will not mean the prohibition or restriction of the use of the digital currency in domestic development. Last week, at a joint meeting to review the progress of the (local cryptocurrency) project, it was announced that the experimental model was ready,” said Azari-Jahromi, according to Reuters.

Azari-Jahromi is known for being very much an innovator and trailblazer in a very conservative country. He is by far the youngest minister in the cabinet and has pronounced himself in favour of cryptocurrencies and their possible use in Iran.

In February, Azari-Jahomi announced that his ministry’s Postal Bank had been collaborating with local experts to come up with an experimental cryptocurrency that would eventually be presented to banks for review and approval, if all goes well. This is quite forward looking for a nation that remains extremely conservative on financial matters. Islamic Finance does not preclude cryptocurrencies but actually encourages them, so that could be a positive aspect in the whole equation.

There is an ongoing debate on the regulation of crypto currencies with several countries’ central banks calling for tighter rules while others are actively pursuing their own crypto currency. A case in point is Venezuela which introduced the Petro recently but appears to be encountering stumbling blocks in its implementation.

Iran has formally unified its official and open market exchange rates apart from banning money changing outside of banks. This is due to the rial plunging to an all-time low with regard to possible returns of sanctions if the U.S. decides to leave the nuclear agreement. A decision is expected on May 12 by U.S. President Donald Trump on this issue.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
Iranian government outlaws Telegram app

Iranian government outlaws Telegram app

Authorities in Iran have outlawed use of and access to the Telegram messaging app, citing concerns over its potential for stoking civil unrest as well as the potential economic harms of its cryptocurrency.

According to state news outlet Mizan Online, the decision was prompted initially by fears that armed opposition militia were using the app to encourage rebellion. Similarly, government officials highlighted problems with the Telegram initial coin offering (ICO), which they suggested could undermine the local economy.

The news follows on from public calls by officials in April, in response to the second round of funding for Telegram. In the second phase of their ICO, Telegram’s pot grew to $1.7 billion, behind its concept for the development of a full-blockchain Telegram ecosystem.

The news will be a blow for consumers in Iran, and in particular, the 40 million or so in the country known to be users of the platform—roughly 50% of the entire population of Iran.

Nevertheless, Telegram has long been controversial in the country. Back in January, access to the service was temporarily suspended following street protests, which it was alleged were stoked by use of the app.

In particular, the government points to foreign-based agitators, whom it alleges were using the Telegram app to incite protest and violence amongst Iranian citizens. This resulted in Iranian authorities attempting to launch their own social networks to reduce the reliance on foreign-owned properties, which they claim present an anti-establishment bias.

One of those platforms, Soroush, claimed it has 5 million members, despite having been setup only a matter of months ago. Alongside rival platform, Gap, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranians to choose government-approved alternatives in his final message on the platform several weeks ago.

Iran’s supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also posted to Telegram for the final time in April, committing to using alternatives in place of Telegram.

The ban will impose duties on phone and Internet service providers, who are now compelled to block access to Telegram by law. Any breach is deemed a contravention of the law, and firms that do not comply will be liable to prosecution.

It remains to be seen whether the move to ban the service in Iran will further undermine interest in the Telegram ICO.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
Flip-flopping Iran finally goes all in on cryptocurrency crackdown

Flip-flopping Iran finally goes all in on cryptocurrency crackdown

Is the country shutting down competitors in preparation for their own cryptocurrency?

Iran has been going hot and cold on cryptocurrencies lately. In November last year, the secretary of Iran’s High Council of Cyberspace (ICC) said they “welcome Bitcoin.”

“We [at the HCC] welcome Bitcoin, but we must have regulations for Bitcoin and any other digital currency…Our view regarding Bitcoin is positive, but it does not mean that we will not require regulations in this regard because following the rules is a must,” secretary Abolhassan Firouzabadi said.

But then in February, the Central Bank of Iran backpedalled and released contradictory statements, saying they never legally recognized Bitcoin or any other cryprocurrencies in the territory.“The wild fluctuations of the digital currencies along with competitive business activities underway via network marketing and pyramid scheme have made the market of these currencies highly unreliable and risky,” they stated.

And now, they are going all in on the crackdown. The Central Bank has issued an order banning local banks from engaging in any cryptocurrency-related activities, which means any exchanges operating or planning to operate in the country are good as dead.

“Banks and credit institutions and currency exchanges should avoid any sale or purchase of these currencies or taking any action to promote them,” the Central Bank reportedly stated in a report by state news agency IRNA. “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.”

Some speculate whether they’re trying to pull off something similar to China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies—phasing competition early in preparation for launching their own nationally mandated cryptocurrency. In February, Iran’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi Tweeted that they are working on their own cryptocurrency. A rough translation of his Tweet in Arabic goes:

“In a meeting with the board of directors of the Post Bank of Iran on digital currency based Won blockchain, the necessary measures for the pilot implementation of the country’s first digital currency were set out by using the country’s elite capacity. A pilot model for review and approval will be presented to the banking system of the country.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
Bittrex bans North Korea

Bittrex bans North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Crimea clients from exchange

The ban kicks in March 9th, but some say their accounts—and their funds have already been frozen without a heads-up.

Last year, the US signed into law the politically controversial bill titled, “Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act,” which aims “to provide congressional review and to counter aggression by the Governments of Iran, the Russian Federation, and North Korea.” Under the bill, as part of “combating terrorism and illicit financing, accounts belonging to citizens and residents of North Korea, Iran, and the Crimean region of Ukraine will be added to the restricted territories list banned from accessing US finance services—including cryptocurrency exchanges.

While Cuba was not part of this new bill, a series of embargoes has been imposed against the country for decades, starting in 1958 with succeeding broader sanctions stretching to this day. Similarly, the US has enforced sanctions against Syria since 1979, labelling the country as a “state sponsor of terror.” And the same ban applies to citizens and residents of the two countries.

To comply with the new bill, Bittrex has released a revised terms of service document.

“You may not use the Services if you are located in, or a citizen or resident of any state, country, territory or other jurisdiction that is embargoed by the United States or where your use of the Services would be illegal or otherwise violate any applicable law. You represent and warrant that you are not a citizen or resident of any such jurisdiction and that you will not use any Services while located in any such jurisdiction. You also may not use the Services if you are located in, or a citizen or resident of, any other jurisdiction where Bittrex has determined, at its discretion, to prohibit use of the Services. Bittrex may implement controls to restrict access to the Services from any jurisdiction prohibited pursuant to this Section 2.2. You will comply with this Section 2.2, even if Bittrex’s methods to prevent use of the Services are not effective or can be bypassed,” Bittrex wrote on their website.

The embargo would supposedly start on March 9. But some users are saying that Bittrex started freezing accounts since last year—along with the funds in them. Complaints claim that shortly after the bill was signed last year, the exchange closed down thousands of accounts belonging to Iranians, Indians, Pakistani, Russian, Syrian, Turkish nationals, as well as some from American, French, and German nationals without a proper heads-up. And worse, no recourse was provided to users on how they can take out their funds from the exchange before they were closed.

In December last year, in an article by news.Bitcoin.com, Yasser Ahmadi of Lioncomputer says Bittrex failed to give Iranians a proper exit from the exchange, and has been ignoring support tickets from locked out users.

“We’re having difficulties for a long time now, it started around two years ago. Poloniex and Bitfinex announced that Iranian users should withdraw their funds and leave the exchange and now we’re having trouble with Bittrex. Bittrex started closing Iranian accounts without any heads up or announcements from Oct 12 and haven’t responded to our support tickets and emails since.”

Ahmadi added that the bill was a political manipulation and a violation of Bitcoin and the blockchain’s principle.

“I think Bitcoin should not be limited by the regulation process and that’s exactly what the United States is doing. They’re using the fluidity of bitcoin to control the needs of people around the world and reach their own political interests – that is not what bitcoin and blockchain is about, it’s against the spirit of this system.”

Note: Tokens in the SegWit chain are referred to as SegWit1X (BTC) and SegWit Gold (SWG) and are no longer Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the only true Bitcoin as intended by the original Satoshi white paper.  Bitcoin BCH is the only public block chain that offers safe and cheap microtransactions.