Iran has announced that is has developed an “experimental model” cryptocurrency, according to a report from Iran Front Page. The announcement was made by Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, who reportedly told the Islamic Republic News Agency that the new national cryptocurrency was ready as recently as last week.
Azari Jahromi discussed the cryptocurrency in an interview on Friday and attempted to allay concerns that Iran’s digital currency might somehow conflict with Sharia rules – something that has been a point of controversy for many Islamic religious leaders and scholars. The Minister confirmed that the new currency would be backed by Iranian assets to ensure that it has the real value many Islamic leaders insist is necessary for complying with Sharia’s requirements.
The Iranian cryptocurrency project involved the combined efforts of the country’s Post Bank, the ICT Research Institute, and the Central Bank’s Monetary and Banking Research Institute. This week’s announcement comes only a week after Iran’s central bank had ordered the country’s financial institutions to stop handling any transactions related to cryptocurrency.
Azari Jahromi also addressed claims that his country’s government is using digital currency technology to defeat existing financial sanctions. Some observers have suggested that Iran has been concerned that a Trump administration reversal of the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal could see the U.S. reimpose tighter sanctions on the regime. According to Azari Jahromi:
“All cryptocurrencies are capable of circumventing sanctions because they are not under supervision of the US financial regulatory body, and the national digital currencies are naturally capable of this.”