Iran Isn’t So Keen on Bitcoin After All. But It May Have Other Cryptocurrency Plans.

February 21, 2018, 5:07 PM UTC

Late last year, there were reports that the Iranian government was keen on the Bitcoin cryptocurrency as a way of bypassing economic sanctions. However, the government has now said this is not the case at all.

According to the independent Iranian news site Iran Front Page, the country’s central bank has denied ever recognizing Bitcoin as an official currency, along with the idea that it was actively facilitating Bitcoin transactions.

“The wild fluctuations of the digital currencies along with competitive business activities underway via network marketing and pyramid scheme [tactics] have made the market of these currencies highly unreliable and risky,” the central bank reportedly said.

According to the IFP report, the central bank also said it was working on a mechanism to “control and prevent digital currencies in Iran.”

However, there’s an interesting wrinkle in that report: Iran’s technology minister announced on Wednesday that the government is working on a homegrown cryptocurrency.

Iran would not be the first country to develop its own virtual currency as a way of bypassing financial blockades. Just this week, Venezuela launched a new cryptocurrency called the petro, which is supposedly backed by the South American country’s oil reserves.

Although sanctions on Iran are not as heavy as they used to be before the 2015 nuclear deal with the West, Iran is still mostly cut off from major international payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard, and services such as PayPal.

That has reportedly made bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies popular with Iranians themselves, if not their government.