In a move that some media outlets are describing as an effort to ban cryptocurrencies, Iran’s Central Bank has directed banks and other financial institutions to avoid all crypto-related transactions. According to Bloomberg, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported that the ban applies to every finance-related institution in the country:
“All branches of banks, credit institutions and currency exchanges should stay clear of any sale or purchase of these currencies and avoid undertakings that facilitate or promote such currencies. Action will be taken against those who contravene the regulations.”
The move is part of a broader effort by officials to regain control over the nation’s currency markets. The rial, Iran’s official currency, had plummeted in value in early April at a time when many Iranians fear that the Obama-era nuclear deal may soon be abandoned by the U.S. As Bloomberg’s report notes, that could lead to a resumption of the economic sanction regime that effectively ended when that 2015 deal was created.
The Central Bank’s decision will apparently not directly prevent Iranians from trading or owning cryptocurrencies. It will, however, deny them the ability to convert those currencies into accessible cash. If sanctions resume in the future, the ban could prevent the country’s citizens from using digital currencies to minimize their impact.