Iran’s official news outlet pressTV reported that the country is working on a national digital currency.
Speaking to PressTV, Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Mohammad Azari Jahromi stated that the The proposed digital currency is being developed as a collaborative project between domestic Iranian technology companies and the Central Bank of Iran, under the guidance of the Directorate for Scientific and Technological Affairs of the Presidential Office.
Apparently the bulk of the project is well underway with developers working on removing pre-launch flaws. The currency will allegedly be available for both domestic and international use, but no further information has been provided regarding the technological specifications or economic principles of the new currency. It seems likely that the coin will be largely centralized, and not benefit from the security and autonomy of existing decentralized digital assets. Currently however, this remains speculation, with the authorities only stating that the currency may incorporate some smart-contract functionalities.
The developers of the currency are hoping it will allow Iran to sidestep the crippling economic sanctions in place since May. The sanctions, imposed by the US after President Trump shocked the world by reneging upon a multi-nationally developed deal that sought to improve relations with the targeted country, have taken a heavy toll.
Since the US’s backtracking on the Iran deal, which had been a highlight of Obama’s administration, relations with the country have worsened. Thing’s came to a head this week, when Trump took to Twitter to respond to Iranian President Rouhani’s call for the ending of sanctions with violent fervour, escalating the diplomatic spat to levels not seen in recent years:
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
In the context of this war of words, Iran’s desire to find alternative modes of financial stability come as no surprise, especially as Iran is not the first to pursue this path. Venezuela’s Maduro-led dictatorship announced a plan to crowdfund an oil-backed digital currency with the similar aim of avoiding US sanctions, has been largely unsuccessful. While the government declared the ICO raised a staggering £5 billion, no evidence to support this claim has been provided.
Whether Iran can rapidly develop its own national digital currency, and whether this will provide the financial respite the country needs, is not yet clear.
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