As US sanctions continue to bite in Iran, Bitcoin and Bitcoin mining continue to serve as alternatives to circumvent banking institutions. However, these activities are now firmly under the US radar.
Many Iranians have adopted the digital currency both in their own country and overseas to sidestep economic sanctions. The UK, traditionally a long-time favorite location for students, has also been hit. In November, SWIFT suspended several Iranian banks from its service after the imposition of United States nuclear sanctions on Tehran. This has resulted in difficulties for Iranian students in the UK when obtaining cash.
Many universities are now advising students to return to Iran and return back to the UK with sufficient cash funds to pay for courses and living expenses. Consequently, some Iranian students have turned to Bitcoin, obtaining their fiat funds through crypto exchanges.
The latest problem for Iranian Bitcoin users, many of then students, is that the sanctions are now extending their reach to certain providers. International crypto exchanges, including Bittrex and Binance, have also begun complying with the sanctions against Iran and have stopped dealing with Iranian clients.
The US Treasury is now warning digital marketplaces that either conduct Bitcoin business or sell computers for potential mining that they must stop providing services to Iranians, well aware that Bitcoin is being used in order to circumvent sanctions.
One Iranian miner speaking to the New York Times from a desert location outside of Tehran, explained that even using outdated Chinese A9Antminers has a purpose. “I guess this is the last place on earth where they are still profitable,” said the operator, wishing to remain anonymous. “We’ll have two engineers on site to keep everything running, that’s it,” said Behzad, CEO of IranAsic, the company running the site.
Such farms are popping up around the country aided by generous government power subsidies for electricity which is already cheap compared to the US and Europe. So cheap, it is now drawing interest from investors in Europe, Russia, and Asia.
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