Iran’s currency tensions spur crypto ban

Al-Monitor | : Last week, Iran joined the growing list of nations to crack down on cryptocurrencies. But why did it choose this approach? Why now? What consequences will it have? As is the case with most things concerning the Iranian economy at present, the ban seems rooted in Iran’s ongoing currency issues.

The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) on April 22 announced through a directive that “all branches and affiliated units of banks, credit institutions and currency exchanges” must refrain from purchasing or selling bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies and do away with any activities leading to their “facilitation or promotion.” The regulator said it has communicated the directive because cryptocurrencies have the potential to “turn into instruments for money laundering and financing terrorism and to be used by criminals for money transfers.”

On one hand, the wording is to some extent confusing and has prompted some to interpret it as a measure that effectively renders all cryptocurrency activities in Iran illegal and depicts them as exemplifications of money laundering. On the other hand, if it isn’t a comprehensive ban, it leaves room to wonder why it was enforced and what exactly it hopes to achieve.

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