Iranian Central Banker: 'Risky' Bitcoin Requires Review

Sujha Sundararajan
Nov 14, 2017 at 05:15 UTC
NEWS

The Central Bank of Iran is opening up about its stance on cryptocurrency.

Speaking at a press conference this week, deputy director of new technologies, Naser Hakimi, said that the government-owned central bank is studying bitcoin and that it plans a comprehensive review of its policies in this area. The remarks came amid a wider set of comments on how the central bank will pursue financial technology policy broadly.

Still, Hakimi's statements on cryptocurrency focused mostly on the "uncertainty" and "risk" brought about by speculation in the market, as he suggested investors who seek exposure may be putting their capital at risk.

Hakimi was quoted as saying:

"Given that bitcoin and other currencies have not been introduced by the central bank as the official currency, as well as the risk of buying it and the activity of traders in this field, more precautions are coming into the market because of the possibility of malice."

The comments build on statements issued earlier this year, when according to Irani newspaper the Financial Tribune, Hakimi recently referred to bitcoin in Iran as an "opportunity."

At the time, he said the idea of a national digital currency has been pitched and is under evaluation.

But while the comments don't offer too much in the way of detail, the Central Bank of Iran is nonetheless emerging as one of the more active in the region on the subject. (Few companies and countries in the Middle East have acknowledged bitcoin or cryptocurrencies.)

Last month, Lebanon's Central Bank governor announced plans to launch its own digital currency, though he was not yet clear if the project will be based on blockchain technology.

This was followed by criticisms from the head of the central bank of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who stressed on the lack of supervision around bitcoin, claiming that it facilitates money laundering and terrorism financing.

Editor's Note: Some of the statements in this report have been translated from Persian.

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