EghtesadOnline: The CEO of an Iranian cryptocurrency exchange claims that domestic platforms account for the majority of transactions by traders in the country.
"Iranians’ daily crypto transactions is estimated between 30 and 50 trillion rials ($181 million), while there is no regulation over trade in cryptocurrencies…More than 88% of the deals are conducted via local exchange platforms," Hamed Mirzaei, the CEO of Bitestan, was quoted as saying by Peyvast magazine.
"This amount is higher than capital market transactions, indicating Iranians' growing interest in investing in cryptocurrencies," he said. "An estimated seven to 12 million Iranians own cryptocurrencies."
He added that Iranians account for about 5% of the global bitcoin mining, generating $1 billion annually. Mirzaei urged policymakers to put in place suitable regulations so that the country could make the best use of the new technology.
Mining virtual currency is legal in Iran and miners are allowed to operate under rules approved by the government. However, trade in crypto is banned even though later the central bank said banks and licensed moneychangers can use the digital currency mined by authorized miners in Iran to pay for imports.
In March and following stringent anti-money laundering measures, the CBI ordered Shaparak, the local payment settlement network, to block online payment gateways owned by crypto exchange websites.
In May 60,000 people involved in the crypto business signed a petition asking the former president Hassan Rouhani to stop blocking crypto exchanges. Soon after media outlets published a letter from the former president's office, in which the CBI was asked not to block cryptocurrency exchanges.
However, regulations approved by the Tehran government in 2019 do not prohibit the swapping of cryptocurrencies.
The growing domestic interest in mining and trading cryptocurrencies has prompted authorities to craft a roadmap for crypto business as a whole.
However, the issue, experts say, is more complex than previous regulatory challenges. The result has been that no state body wants a role in this sector or accept responsibility.
The Central Bank of Iran said earlier in the year that it was in no hurry to announce new procedures for cryptocurrency exchanges. It said it is working on a plan of action for the crypto market in collaboration with state institutions.
Lawmakers are trying to steer clear of restrictive measures related to innovative technologies including cryptocurrencies, saying limitations on new technology is no solution.
On the other hand some observers believe that the growth in the popularity of cryptocurrencies as a tool for settlement could devalue the rial. Dominance of digital currency as a means of payment would create major hurdles for the economy, in particular because of the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies.