The Iranian government just made conduits to cryptocurrency markets riskier, and more confusing, than ever before.
According to Iranian news outlet ArzDigital, the parliament published a proposal in the week to incorporate cryptocurrency in existing “currency smuggling” and foreign currency exchange regulations. The results of this prospective regulation is Iranian entrepreneurs face a heightened risk of being jailed by local authorities or sanctioned by Americans.
The law would mean Iranian crypto exchanges must be licensed by the financial institution of Iran and follow legacy foreign currency exchange guidelines, although it’s not apparent how existing exchanges should apply for licensing or adapt those fiat norms to blockchain technology. what’s clear is that the Iranian government is looking to quell capital outflow by preemptively justifying any moves to pack up or penalize local crypto exchanges.
However, the Iranian market doesn’t strictly contains homegrown, over-the-counter traders. Unlike fiat currency exchanges, several crypto operations serving Iran are legally based in other countries. it’s unclear how the new licensing guidance applies to decentralized ecosystems.
For example, the Binance-owned analytics site CoinMarketCap, officially based within the U.S. state of Delaware, listed the KingMoney token in Q1 2020. CoinMarketCap CSO Carylyne Chan said that “there were no glaring red flags that arose during the appliance process.” Yet, this bitcoin clone token is clearly promoted in suspicious ways. Twitter bot researcher Geoff Golberg said the date of latest follows indicates “inauthentic accounts were created solely to form their Twitter community appear more robust leading up to being listed by CMC.”
The crypto exchange UtByte and therefore the KingMoney token project both appear to be registered in Sweden under an umbrella firm called Sweden Invest AB , led by Swedish-Iranian businessman Reza Khelili Dylami. (Dylami couldn’t be reached for comment by press time.) Some Farsi blogs labeled both these projects as an interconnected “scam.” Regardless, it had been obviously marketed to Iranians for the aim of cross-border transactions.
According to Chainalysis, “UtByte has received about $13.8 million of BTC and has strong transactional connections to Iranian cryptocurrency services and exchanges.”
The Trump administration’s concerns about Iranians using cryptocurrency to circumnavigate sanctions appear to be correct. It’s unclear how crypto exchanges would still bypass sanctions if, within the future, they’re tallied and registered with the financial institution of Iran.
On the opposite hand, even cryptocurrency projects that are fully based in Iran often enjoy foreign social media efforts. for instance , over the past weekend Tron founder Justin Sun promoted Iranian crypto exchange operators like Cryptoland on Twitter.
Cryptoland co-founder Hassan Golmohammadi said the corporate is legally based outside of Iran but operates locally. When asked about Cryptoland in January 2020, a press representative for the Tron team said it doesn’t directly work with the Iranian company, that any Farsi-language marketing of crypto projects is completed “by the China/Asia team at Tron, not Tron US,” and there’s “no actual marketing done” in Iran.
According to Babak Jalilvand, editor of the leading Farsi crypto blog CoinIran, there’s a “significant” TRX community in Iran precisely because “the Tron team” uses “their marketing skills to draw in people.”
Yet, it remains unclear how sanctions would apply to global crypto communities.
Although he’s not conversant in the Tron Foundation specifically, Dan Newcomb, a compliance expert at firm Shearman & Sterling, said in January that U.S. economic sanctions applicable to Iran apply to a person or organization doing business within the U.S.
“Marketing in Iran is soliciting business in Iran,” Newcomb said.