Government Bans, Iranians Continue to Use
Iran is one of the rare countries that clearly bans Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies (1). As a matter of fact, Central Bank of Iran (CBI) banned all banks in the country from accepting crypto-currencies and declared this decision as a move to reduce the risk of financing terrorism. However, according to the Chairman of the Economic Commission of the Parliament of Iran, the people of Iran sent $ 2.5 billion out of the country to buy crypto-currencies (2). It is interesting to note that according to official statistics, there are very few cryptographic users in Iran. But when we look at the financial data, this figure should be much higher than it officially is.
To put it simply, billions of dollars have gone out of the country due to government bans. That’s not all: The people of Iran have sent 30 billion dollars out of the country since March 2018. As is known, Iran is not part of the international banking system and cannot make wire transfers, for example, via SWIFT. For this reason, this figure is quite impressive because 30 billion dollars should have gone out of the country via exchange dealers and international travelers, not banks. In other words, the people of Iran must have really worked hard to get their money out of the country.
Crypto-Currencies May Be The Answer
These figures are so big that the Iran government can change its decision in regards to crypto-currencies. As a matter of fact, Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), recently stated that Iran was thinking of developing its own crypto-currency (3). He even told that the “test model” was ready. Blockchain technology can make Iran part of the financial world again, without having to use the global banking system. As Donald Trump is getting ready to suspend inter-state agreements with Iran, such a move could even make Iran suffer as little damage as possible. In other words, crypto-currencies can connect Iran to the world once again and protect it from the sanctions of other governments.
However, if you are a gambler residing in Iran, do not expect that even a local crypto-currency will change things for you. Iran is an Islamic nation and gambling is strictly prohibited. This applies to online gambling too. In fact, the penalty of gambling is 6 months in jail or 74 lashes (4). So, no, there is no good news for the local gamblers in Iran.