Is Iran Planning to Recognize Bitcoin?

Photo of a Bitcoin ATM in India's Bangalore

The unveiling of a new system during the recent International Exchange, Bank and Insurance Fair (IRAN FINEX) in Tehran has aroused speculations that Iran might be planning to legalize Bitcoin as a legal currency in a bid to survive the new round of US bans.

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a form of electronic cash which many computer geeks believe will form the future of the global economy.

This comes as governments and other official economic entities are relatively suspicious about it. The suspicion along with the uncontrollable nature of the cryptocurrency have led many countries in the world not to recognize and accept it legally.

However, there are some other countries which recognize Bitcoin and even allow their residents to exchange the electronic cash into their own national currency or other foreign currencies.

For Iranians who are interested in the digital currency or have decided to invest in it, it is not possible to exchange their digital investment into the Iranian rial or other currencies. That’s because the Central Bank of Iran has not yet recognized Bitcoin. So, the closest countries for Iranian Bitcoin owners to exchange their money are Armenia and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia does not allow its currency exchange offices to exchange Bitcoin but it has established one Bitcoin Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in the transit hall of its international airport. Last month, some reports said Dubai has also established a Bitcoin ATM in one of its international commercial skyscrapers.

That’s why a report on the unveiling of a new digital system during the IRAN FINEX sparked widespread rumours among many people. The speculations said the first Bitcoin ATM has been established in Iran. But a brief Google search leads us to a similar news story dating back to about five months ago saying that the first Bitcoin ATM has been unveiled during a conference on Electronic Banking and Payment Systems in Tehran.

The news story also includes a video showing how the system functions. The system is totally different from what is known as the Bitcoin ATM in the world.

In response to a question on the differences between the two systems, the Public Relations Department of Iran’s Securities and Exchange Organization – which is in charge of organizing the IRAN FINEX – said based on the regulations of Iran’s Central Bank, exchanging digital currency is still forbidden in Iran.

The Department then elaborated on the recent report on Bitcoin ATM unveiling in Iran and said no economic entity in Iran is allowed to work in this area.

“But as far as we know, the new system unveiled during the IRAN FINEX, belongs to a startup. It was only put on display during the fair and there is no plan for bringing it into the monetary system of our country,” the department added.

Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency without a central bank or single administrator that can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries.

   
   

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