A senior minister from the Iranian government has revealed that an ‘experimental model’ of the country’s domestic cryptocurrency project is ready to take off.
Within days of the country’s central bank banning trading of cryptocurrencies and barring domestic banks from offering services to industry firms, Iran’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Minister Mohammad Azari-Jahromi confirmed progress being made with a domestic cryptocurrency project.
Speaking on Saturday, the government official was quoted by state news agency IRNA as stating in a Reuters report:
The central bank’s [ban] does not mean the prohibition or restriction of the use of the digital currency in domestic development…Last week, a t a joint meeting to review the progress of the [local cryptocurrency] project, it was announced that the experimental model was ready.
As reported in February, Azhari-Jahromi first revealed efforts toward developing a blockchain-based state cryptocurrency. The state crypto initiative is being led by the Post Bank of Iran, a state-owned bank based in Tehran.
“In a meeting with the board of directors of the Post Bank of Iran on digital currency based on 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,” the official, who is also the country’s youngest minister, said in a tweet at the time.
“A pilot model for review and approval will be presented to the banking system of the country,” he added.
Details of the state cryptocurrency project are scarce but it is a notable development at a time when the Iranian rial, the country’s fiat currency, plummeted to an all-time low as recently as April amid fears of a return of US-led financial sanctions.
On May 12, US president Donald Trump could opt to withdraw the United States from the Obama-era nuclear accord, a move that would realize those fears, or choose to sign a presidential waiver on Iranian sanctions.
Iran’s foray into exploring its own state cryptocurrency follows Venezuela’s launch of the ‘oil-backed’ cryptocurrency Petro, described by Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro as a monetary instrument to circumvent global financial sanctions and blockades. Maduro has already made several efforts to introduce the cryptocurrency into global state commerce by offering discounts on crude oil exports if paid in petro, as well as pitching the cryptocurrency as an investment to nations like Qatar.
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