Iran Completes National Cryptocurrency Project Amid Threats Of US-led 'Psychological Warfare'

  • Iran's cryptocurrency project is now reportedly complete.
  • The country is, according to reports, planning to bypass US-led sanctions by using a state-backed cryptocurrency.

Iran’s state-backed cryptocurrency project has reportedly completed its final stages of development, according to the nation’s National Cyberspace center.  Local news outlet the Financial Tribune revealed on August 25 that the country’s crypto initiative was led primarily by Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

Speaking to Iranian news outlet IBENA, the deputy director of Iran’s Supreme Cyberspace Council, Saeed Mahdiyoun, said the nation’s government was actively working on developing a state-backed digital currency. When it'll be implemented is yet unclear.

Mahdiyoun added that Iran’s regulatory authorities and its central bank would soon be issuing an official statement regarding the legality of cryptocurrency transactions. Per the director, the Iranian government is planning to clarify its stance on crypto by the end of next month.

Circumventing US-Led Sanctions

Currently, Iran’s financial institutions are not authorized to offer banking services to crypto-related businesses or individuals transacting in digital currencies. This may be due, in part, to the Iranian government citing concerns about money laundering activities associated with cryptocurrencies late last year.

As CryptoGlobe reported, Iran had been planning to circumvent US-led economic sanctions by issuing a state-backed digital currency. Notably, US president Trump recently announced his administration will be renewing its sanctions against the so-called rogue state in November.

President Trump warned that "anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States." In response, president Rouhani said the US was using “psychological warfare” to intimidate Iran.

Sending Money To & From "Anywhere In The World"

Due to the restrictive nature of internationally imposed political and economic sanctions on Iran, the country has been unable to conduct trade or business with most countries. As a result, its economy has suffered greatly. The government plans on recovering by using a national cryptocurrency to “facilitate the transfer of money” to “anywhere in the world.”

Attempting to employ a strategy that appears to be similar to that of other nations crippled by US-led sanctions like Venezuela, Iran is looking to fight back using blockchain-based payment and transaction systems. Moreover, because of the Trump administration’s recent sanctioning of US dollars, Iran is now banned from transacting in USD.

Other neighboring nations affected by controversial US economic policies include Turkey, which recently saw its national currency, the Turkish lira, plummet to record lows against the USD. As CryptoGlobe reported, Turkey’s residents have begun to increasingly adopt and use cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin (BTC), as they’ve lost confidence in not only their nation’s fiat currency, but also its traditional banking system.

Fighting Sanctions With Cryptocurrency 

In other countries, like Venezuela, the adverse effects of international sanctions and rampant corruption have led to the total collapse of the national currency, the Bolivar. As Venezuela’s Bolivar has become practically useless, the nation’s president, Nicolas Maduro, has claimed he will help revive the local economy with the state-backed Petro cryptocurrency and its sovereign bolivar, tied to it.

Maduro also recently said its citizens will be able to use the Petro for everyday expenses and that it will be valued at $60 (per token). Maduro’s administration further claimed its a “sovereign cryptoasset backed and issued by the Venezuelan state.” However, ICOIndex, a website that evaluates the legitimacy of crypto tokens, called the Petro a “scam.”

It also appears that Venezuela’s citizens have not adopted the controversial Petro, but as CryptoGlobe reported, an increasing number of merchants in the country have begun to look for economic relief by using and accepting Dash.

Ripple CEO: 'You Don’t Want to Use BTC at Starbucks'

On Thursday (January 23), Brad Garlinghouse, the CEO of Ripple, told the Wallet Street Journal (WSJ) that Bitcoin is not a good means of payment because BTC transactions take too long.

The Ripple CEO's comments were made during his talk with Phillipa Leighton-Jones (Editorial Director for Innovation) at a Ripple-sponsored event (organized by the WSJ) called "Ripple Panel: Changing the Finance Industry From Within" held alongside this year's World Economic Forum Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Although we don't yet have a full transcript of this interview, we do know about two of the things he talked about thanks to tweets by Asheesh Birla, SVP of Product at Ripple, who was at this event.

First, it seems that although the Ripple CEO likes Bitcoin as a store of value, he does not see (at least, as of now) as a viable means of payment. The example he gave was paying for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. He believes that BTC transactions take so long to confirm that by the time you have finished paying for your coffee, "it'll be cold." 

Second, within the next 12 months, he sees several companies in the crypto space holding initial public offerings (IPOs) and he wants Ripple to be "on the leading side" since this is "a natural evolution" for Ripple, which raised $200 million via a Series C funding round (which valued the company at $10 billion) last month. 

On Wednesday (January 22), Ripple published the "Q4 2019 XRP Markets Report", which is a quarterly report that allows Ripple to "voluntarily provide transparency and regular updates on the company’s views on the state of the XRP market, including quarterly programmatic and institutional sales updates, relevant XRP-related announcements such as Xpring and RippleNet partnerships and commentary on previous quarter market developments." 

In Q4 2019, Ripple's total XRP sales were down just over 80% compared to the preceding quarter ($13.08 million vs. $66.24 million). Ripple "continued the pause of programmatic sales" (to crypto exchanges), and focused exclusively on over-the-counter (OTC) sales to "a few strategic partners, who are building XRP utility and liquidity in strategic regions including EMEA and Asia."

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