Iran is officially recognizing cryptocurrency mining as an industry within its borders.
According to the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, a government economic commission approved crypto mining on Sunday, with the government now looking for ways to regulate this activity within its existing legal structure.
“A mechanism to mine digital coins was approved by the government’s economic commission and will later be put to discussion at a cabinet meeting,” Central Bank of Iran governor Abdolnaser Hemmati said in a statement.
Similarly, deputy minister energy for electricity and energy Homayun Haeri said government ministers will vote on a measure to approve an electricity rate for mining farms.
The Iranian government has been vacillating on whether to approve of mining as an industry or not. Last month, two mining farms were seized and shut down by authorities.
Haeri has also been quoted in the past as saying that the government should not subsidize crypto mining efforts
However, the region has long been attractive to miners due to cheap electricity rates available.
While crypto mining appears to have been given a tentative green light in Iran, it is unclear whether officials are changing their stance on using cryptocurrencies for domestic payments, and if so, how.
The central bank recommended barring crypto usage for domestic payments at the end of January, though local industry stakeholders are pushing back against such a ban.
Two Iranian nationals remain the only individuals to be placed onto the U.S. State Department Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC)’s sanctions list for bitcoin activities specifically.
Last year, OFAC sanctioned Ali Khorashadizadeh and Mohammad Ghorbaniyan for their alleged roles in facilitating payments for the SamSam ransomware.
While Ghorbaniyan admits to facilitating these payments, he claims he was not aware of the funds’ origins.
Correction (July 23, 2019, 13:15 UTC): This article previously identified the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture as a government entity. It is actually reporting on the actions of a government commission.
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