U.S. Is Working to Stop Iran From Mining Cryptocurrencies, Iranian Official Claims

Iran’s assistant minister of industry, trade, and supply Saeed Zarandi has recently claimed the United States is looking to stop Iran from mining cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

According to local news outlet Al-Fars, Zarandi claimed the U.S. Congress believes cryptocurrencies are a tool that can be used to evade sanctions and launder money, and is therefore working to “prevent the production of digital currency in Iran.”

Commenting on how cryptocurrencies are perceived in the country, Zarandi noted that several Iranian ministries are working with the country’s central bank to settle the issue. As covered, last year the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) bashed Iran for allegedly using cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions.

At the time, the organization admitted the use of cryptocurrencies was “comparatively small” in the country, identifying “at least $3.8 million worth of bitcoin-denominated transactions per year” from the country since 2013.

Earlier this year, Iran’s central bank announced the launch of a national gold-backed cryptocurrency called PayMon. Details on the cryptocurrency and its use are scarce, although during an interview the founder of Iranian blockchain company ArzDigital revealed it’s based on the Stellar Lumens (XLM) network.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been rising over the last few weeks. Last month Iran downed a U.S. drone claiming it entered its airspace. The country, at the time, claimed it would defend its borders with “all our might.” U.S. President Donald Trump, after being briefed, claimed the country made a “very big mistake.”

Trump reportedly called off a planned attack on Iran soon after, as it would’ve allegedly killed 150 civilians. The rising tensions have, according to some analysts, been good for BTC, as the cryptocurrency hit new highs when things got tense.

It’s unclear whether Iran itself is cryptocurrency-friendly, however. While it has unveiled a gold-backed cryptocurrency, recent reports suggest it confiscated over 1,000 bitcoin mining machines, and announcements from the Ministry of Energy suggest its planning to cut off power to cryptocurrency mining operations taking advantage of subsidized energy.

Binance Raises Eyebrows After Confirming Coinmarketcap Acquisition

Binance Holdings Ltd., the firm behind leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has confirmed the acquisition of cryptoasset tracking platform CoinMarketCap.

In a blog post, Binance confirmed the acquisition and claimed CoinMaketCap “stays committed” to providing quality cryptocurrency data to its users “while benefiting from Binance’s expertise, resources and scale.” It added CoinMarketCap has “maintained independence from external stakeholders since its inception” and will keep being an independent business entity.

In the post, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao was quoted as saying CoinMarketCap is the “landing page of crypto.” The acquisition was first reported on by TheBlock, which wrote the platform could be changing hands for as much as $400 million in cash and stock.

While Binance’s BNB token and the Binance exchange are listed on the platform, the post responded to users’ concerns surrounding the acquisition writing:

CoinMarketCap and Binance are separate entities that maintain a strict policy of independence from one another: Binance has no bearing on CoinMarketCap rankings, while CoinMarketCap has no influence over Binance’s operations.

As CryptoGlobe reported, users expressed concern surrounding CoinMarketCap’s data after the acquisition was first reported, as managing the platform could be very beneficial for Binance, which could use it as a funnel to gain new users.

Speaking to Bloomberg News Nic Carter, co-founder of Coin Metrics, noted that Binance could also set its platform as the preferred exchange by topping the rankings by default.  Carter added:

While the move may cause some to question CMC’s [CoinMarketCap’s] ability to remain a neutral data provider, it could potentially be very productive for Binance.

Binance’s blog post details CoinMarketCap’s founder Brandon Chez is stepping down as CEO to focus on his family, while current Chief Strategy Officer Carylyne Chain has been named interim CEO.

The cryptocurrency exchange recently raised users’ ire after participating in what was dubbed a hostile takeover of the STEEM blockchain, later on removing the vote. CoinMarketCap’s data itself has also been heavily criticized, with one filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission from Bitwise Asset Management arguing 95% of the trading volume it reports is fake or non-economical in nature.

Cryptocurrency exchanges have been known to use schemes that help boost their trading volumes – in some cases allegedly going as far as wash trading – to boost their rankings on CoinMarketCap and gain visibility.

Addressing the issue Zhao noted it wasn’t an easy problem to fix, adding that almost everything “requires some kind of judgement or algorithm.” While the acquisition comes at a time in which the economy has been suffering because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Market volatility has, however, been good for crypto exchanges. Zhao revealed Binance’s traffic increased about five times over the past few weeks, while Coinbase had already revealed its volumes grew after the March 12-13 market crash.

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