Citizens of Iran now have their own bitcoin market website, CoinAva. The site aims to educate people about bitcoin and allow them to buy and sell the digital currency.
A spokesperson for CoinAva said bitcoin isn't yet very popular in Iran, but said that once a few people start talking about it, its popularity will increase rapidly.
"When something takes off here, every man and his dog will be totally into it," he said.
He went on to say the Iranian government hasn't said anything specifically about bitcoin yet, but he believes it probably thinks digital currency is "another conspiracy of the USA".
The Iranian government believes anything based on the internet is suspicious, according to the spokesperson, but he thinks bitcoin has more potential to do positive than negative things for Iran and its government.
"We are loyal to our country and are doing this because we absolutely believe that bitcoin will be of benefit to Iran. The problem is, Bitcoin's creator is unknown and this has lead to an interesting situation. The US government thinks Iran can use bitcoin to bypass all the sanctions and Iran thinks this is all a game by the CIA."
CoinAva has been trying to engage with authorities, seeking permission to have a base in Iran, but has made no headway as of yet.
The trading of bitcoins on CoinAva is currently done through a company called Kenn Ava that is registered in Australia, which explains why Australian dollar to bitcoin exchange rates are listed along the top of the site. The site's spokesperson said they chose an Australian company because Iran is less sensitive about Australia than the US, UK, Canada and other countries.
One thing CoinDesk noticed about CoinAva is that its fees are quite a lot higher than those charged by similar sites elsewhere in the world. It charges 4% on the sale and 6% on the purchase of bitcoins, but the spokesperson said this is because "CoinAva buys bitcoins in Australia and this is the cheapest we can get at the moment".
He said one of the biggest problems they face is that the local currency - the Rial - fluctuates dramatically against other currencies, which adds to the volatility of bitcoin when traded in the country. To get round this, CoinAva will contact its customers and ask for confirmation before putting a transaction through if the price of bitcoin is far from the price it was at the time of order.
The spokesperson said he was surprised because, so far, CoinAva has had more interest from sellers than buyers. "This is amazing and it shows that Iranians are up to date."
This is another great example of bitcoin's increasing global reach. Let us know what's going on with bitcoin in your local area.
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