Iran Feeling Heat from SWIFT Sanctions, National Cryptocurrency Ready for Blast-off?

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) may have just pushed Iran to the wall in its plans to build a state-issued cryptocurrency, having abruptly ejected several banks from the marginalized Middle-Eastern state under mounting pressure from the US government.

Coming on the heels of stern US oil and financial sanctions against Iran over its nuclear arms programs, Belgium-based SWIFT appears to have once again buckled under the weight of the White House—with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin having told reporters the financial messaging outfit would also feel the heat of sanctions if it continued to service select Iranian banks, Al Jazeera reported.

Iran gets the boot, again

SWIFT—often described as the ‘glue’ of the global banking system relaying an average 28 million payment messages between more than 11,000 financial institutions each day—last pulled the plug on Iran when in 2012 it gave the boot to several banks blacklisted by the EU, who at the time also appeared to be abiding by the demands of Capitol Hill.

The move would once more cast a shadow on SWIFT’s self-description as a “neutral global cooperative” that is “defined by its community of users around the world” and invariably put a smug grin of vindication on the faces of decentralization proponents, who for years have pushed the technological and ideological narratives of blockchain as a financial vehicle immune to political agenda.

Yet, Iran too appears to consider that crypto could chew through the evidently tight leash its financial system is kept on by global powers.

Building a ‘Rial’ Cryptocurrency

After months trumpeting plans to build a national cryptocurrency, the state revealed in August an official document at the behest of President Hassan Rouhani, detailing its planned Rial-backed, Hyperledger-based stablecoin.

Now, according to the chief executive of the developer of the coin, the Central Bank of Iran may be getting ready to roll out its newly-minted crypto.

Speaking to local news outlet Ibena, Informatics Services Corporation CEO Seyyed Abotaleb Najafi said that while the token was currently in its pilot stage pending approval, the Central Bank of Iran would be permitting Iranian banks to use it as a fully-fledged payment instrument.

Posted In: Regulation

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