Iranians are still using Bitcoin as a popular alternative to traditional currencies, despite anonymous reports coming in from Iran that the government has been stifling the trading of cryptocurrency since May 2018 by blocking important exchange websites.
Apparently, every single cryptocurrency exchange website is censored, including peer-to-peer trading hub Localbitcoins, and the government is using deep packet inspection so the sites can’t even be accessed with virtual private networks (VPNs), which change IP address and hide internet browsing.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of active traders in Iran online on Localbitcoins, with several offering offline methods to buy or sell Bitcoin. CoinDance statistics on Localbitcoins also indicate little effect on trading volumes since May, with IRR 10.9 billion (USD 254,000) in Bitcoin exchanging hands in the last week of June.
As reported in a recent article on BitcoinNews, Iranians are looking to use cryptocurrency since the native Iranian fiat currency IRR is experiencing hyperinflation of 132% annually and growing rapidly. This hyperinflation crisis has been brought about by the United States pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, which will result in a full-scale blockade on Iran’s international finance activity and trading. Even the government of Iran has been considering cryptocurrency to bypass sanctions.
However, Director of the IranObserved Project at the Middle East Institute, Ahmad Kalid Majidyar, says, “President Rohani doesn’t want Iranians to transfer foreign currency, especially dollars, outside the country”.
Essentially, the Iranian government is worried that outflows of money from the country via cryptocurrency could accelerate the decline of the economy. One anonymous source says trading cryptocurrency with IRR is completely banned.
In December 2017, the regulator in charge of anti-money laundering policy in Iran issued a decree to the Central Bank that financial institutions cannot facilitate cryptocurrency activity. This is similar to the ban that is about to go into effect in India on 5 July 2018.
Trading of cryptocurrency continues in Iran despite all of this in the form of in-person fiat to crypto deals, that is, Bitcoin dealing. Due to the decentralized nature of cryptocurrency, even if cryptocurrency is completely banned there is no way to stop Bitcoin dealing.
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