Iran’s National Center of Cyberspace (NCC) has drafted a proposal for regulating digital currencies, reported The Financial Tribune, the country’s first English-language newspaper on economics. It is set to be passed by the High Council of Cyberspace in the next four months. “The widening use of digital currency, specifically bitcoin, in recent years has prompted officials to implement regulatory measures,” the publication wrote.
Two different commissions have been reviewing different aspects of digital currencies; one on the economic impact, and the other on security issues. “The two commissions will hold a meeting in the next two months to finalize the proposal,” NCC’s deputy for regulation Saeid Mahdavioon said, adding that:
We had come up with five scenarios for regulating digital currencies in Iran … NCC’s Commission for Regulations has favored a scenario that focuses on taking a lawful approach to make the best use of digital currencies.
Government Began Working on Regulations in 2013
The Iranian government started working on the regulatory framework for digital currencies in 2013 when the NCC released a report proposing that bitcoin should be regulated soon.
That year, an Iranian shoemaker with a bitcoin-only e-commerce shop called Persian Shoes reached out to the Bitcoin community. CEO Mor Roghani wrote on his website that he could not take other forms of payment to sell his products worldwide. He explained, “the problem is we operate in Iran and most payment systems either are not willing to serve us at all or impose a huge risk on our business.” While bitcoin has been helping him circumvent his payments problem, sanctions placed on the country by the US still make it illegal for US residents to purchase goods from the country.
Bitcoin and the Iranian Central Bank
Although the NCC is leading the way in regulating digital currencies in Iran, some believe the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) needs to get involved too. “Bitcoin activities include money creation, so the Central Bank of Iran needs to set the ground rules and supervise related activities, otherwise this would disrupt the economic cycle,” said Faramarz Khaleqi, the CEO of Bank Melli Iran’s Sadad Informatics Corps.
The central bank considers digital currencies to be commodities and put the Securities and Exchange Organization in charge, according to Mahdavioon’s interview with Mehr News Agency.
So far, the CBI “has made no official comments about bitcoin,” Nima Amir Shekari, the head of e-banking group at the Monetary and Banking Institute, said in December. The bank has adopted a “wait-and-see” policy toward digital currencies, he added.
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