An Iranian central banker, Nasser Hakimi, on Monday said that trading in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is illegal in the country.
The deputy governor for new technologies at the Central Bank of Iran,Nasser Hakimi, told Tasnim that the Supreme Council on Countering Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Crimes had prohibited the sale and purchase of cryptocurrencies.
Talking to Iranians against advertisements and marketing of pyramid-style network schemes, Hakimi said such scams “promote Bitcoin like a tree with gold coins in the Adventures of Pinocchio”.
While warning about the legal risks of buying and selling digital currencies, he drew a distinction between trading and mining crypto-assets. The production of Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies is not illegal in Iran but some of the mining operations that exploit cheap electricity in the country are illegal abinitio.
Iran subsidises household electricy bills and some commercial users, but cryptocurrency miners are also claiming the discount. The government has announced that it would cut off power to all the mining operations it could identify until new energy prices are approved.
Bitcoin farms have started opening in old factories and warehouses, even inside mosques which receive free energy in Iran. Masha Alimardani, a human rights and technology researcher at Oxford, Tweeted:
“Mosques receive free energy in Iran. Iranians have set up Bitcoin miners in them. There’s around 100 here, producing around $260,000 USD a year. This money goes a long way in Iran’s choked sanctioned economy.”
Despite its ban on trading cryptocurrency, Iran drafted a bill last year on the possible adoption of a national digital currency to facilitate trade with countries dealing on cryptocurrencies.