A state-backed virtual currency may be launched in Iran, according to the Ministry of Technology. It has revealed that one of the country’s banks is working on the project.
“In a meeting with the board of directors of Post Bank on digital currencies based on the blockchain, I … prescribed … measures to implement the country’s first cloud-based digital currency,” Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi tweeted.
Media reported the Central Bank of Iran was cooperating with other institutions to control digital currencies in Iran. A national digital currency could help Tehran evade potential sanctions from Washington as US President Donald Trump is reportedly considering their reinstatement.
In 2015, a nuclear agreement was reached between Iran and the US, UK, China, France, Germany, and Russia, which saw economic sanctions lifted in exchange for limitations of Iran’s nuclear program. After Trump was elected president he described the nuclear agreement signed by his predecessor Barack Obama as “the worst deal ever negotiated.”
Iran is still mostly cut off from major international payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard, and services such as PayPal.
Tehran’s announcement on its crypto project follows Venezuela’s launch of the world’s first national digital currency the ‘petro’. The oil-backed cryptocurrency has raised the equivalent of more than $735 million, according to President Nicolas Maduro.
After the successful pre-sale of the petro last week, Maduro announced a new virtual token, dubbed ‘petro oro’, which will be backed by precious metals. The launch of the petro oro is scheduled for this week.