Iran Criminalizes Telegram’s Cryptocurrency, Declares Gram a ‘Threat to National Security’

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The Islamic nation has criminalized the support or use of the Gram digital asset, citing it as a threat to national security.


Iran Wary of Cryptos

Iran has always been hostile towards cryptocurrencies. In its latest attempt to curb the crypto industry, the government of the Islamic republic has criminalized involvement with the launch of Gram, the cryptocurrency created by the Telegram messaging app.

According to Javad Javidnia, Secretary of the Criminal Content Definition Task Force, any kind of cooperation with Telegram to launch its Gram cryptocurrency in the country will be considered as an act against national security. He further classified the action as an act of disruption towards the national economy.

Javidnia said:

One of the most important factors in banning Telegram was a sense of serious economic threat from its activities, which was unfortunately marginalized and neglected due to the fuss in the political atmosphere of the country.

Iran’s Hatred for Telegram

It is reported that in December 2017, Iranian authorities had temporarily blocked public access to Telegram, along with Instagram, after a public protest to “maintain peace.”

In April 2018, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, prohibited all government officials from using Telegram. This was followed by the country’s judiciary banning Telegram in the interest of national security.

Telegram, in early 2018, had announced the development of a blockchain platform and had raised about $1.7 billion in two private token sale rounds.

Iranian officials believe that the introduction of a cryptocurrency by the messaging app firm could undermine the national currency.

Telegram is popular within the blockchain and cryptocurrency communities because of its privacy features.

Iran

The Popularity of Digital Assets With Citizens

Despite the hostile stance of the government, cryptocurrencies are popular within a large section of the population. Many citizens are using digital assets as a hedge against the rising inflation due to the impact of the U.S.-imposed sanctions.

It was reported by various media outlets in November 2018 that the central bank of Iran (CBI) had decided to launch a cryptocurrency backed by the local currency, the Rial. To develop the solution, the central bank had engaged a local fintech firm called Informatics Services Corporation (ISC).

The intent behind the move could be to find a way to circumvent the economic sanctions that have hit oil exports from Iran. It is indeed ironic that while, on one hand, Iranian authorities are banning cryptocurrencies, they are, on the other, in the process of developing one themselves.

What are your thoughts on the reported ban on Telegram’s cryptocurrency in Iran? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay and YouTube/@TELEGRAM OPEN NETWORK TON GRAM.

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