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Author Topic: [2018-07-04]Crypto Exchanges Are Suddenly Being Censored In Iran  (Read 15 times)
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July 04, 2018, 05:35:00 AM

"Every crypto exchange in Iran [has been] filtered since May."

That's how one Iranian bitcoin advocate, speaking on condition of anonymity, described a new wave of government censorship that has cut Iranians off from vital links to the crypto economy ahead of a scheduled renewal of U.S. sanctions in August and November.

Several Iranians exclusively told CoinDesk they are having trouble accessing crypto exchanges like Binance, Blockchain and LocalBitcoins, even with virtual private networks (VPNs) and other workarounds that were already commonplace because of international sanctions.

It's a scenario that highlights the complexities of censorship resistance – a country whose people are most in need of an economic lifeline are now ostracized from empowering services.

"Many people are using it [bitcoin] as a hedge instrument because buying BTC is easier than going into the black market to buy yourself US dollars," said the Iranian source, a cryptocurrency veteran with deep ties across Tehran's startup scene.

No speculative investment, the source is referencing how Iranian's currency reached an annual inflation rate of 127 percent on July 2. (For some Iranians, bitcoin's volatility appears trivial in the face of rampant inflation and political uncertainty.)

"[President Rohani] doesn't want Iranians to transfer foreign currency, especially dollars, outside the country," said Ahmad Khalid Majidyar, director of IranObserved Project at the Middle East Institute, a think tank in Washington D.C. that offers non-partisan political analysis.

Majidyar told CoinDesk:

"If [diplomacy] falters, it would mean there are more restrictions, and definitely cryptocurrency would be impacted as well."

Most experts agree that the current economic crisis, one tied to international relations, has spurred Iranian authorities to seek strict controls on cryptocurrency. (A CoinDesk survey of 200 domestic crypto users revealed a majority used the tech for cross-border payments.)

In light of the political situation, the censorship has been a long time coming.

In December 2017, Iran's anti-money laundering body forbid financial institutions from working with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. This policy stipulated the Central Bank of Iran cannot take "any action to promote" decentralized currencies.

Then in May, the Iranian Financial Tribune reported Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi, head of the parliament's economic committee, warned crypto traders could harm the Iranian economy if they continued to spend billions through international marketplaces.

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