Just this week Coin Ava launched as the first Iranian Website open for Iranians to buy and sell Bitcoins.
While Iranian leadership is known for tight regulations on citizens in particular for those seeking to utilize the internet and community with the rest of the world, Iranians have found a way around onerous authoritarian restrictions through the Bitcoin currency.
Last year, Bloomberg Businessweek pushed out an article, “Dollar-Less Iranians Discover Virtual Currency” to conclude, “For now, Iranians are using bitcoins to maintain a fragile connection to the outside world.” Iranian citizens are able to use the Bitcoin currency as a gateway to purchase products around the world and through the Bitcoin currency are not confined to a devalued Rial.
Although unaware of the domestic social and political situation in Iran, outsiders can sense a form of oppression of the Iranian people under the current regime. Due to the current Iranian Leadership, Iran is economically in distress. Fortunatley, in the coming future, there are a few factors that may play a role in an attempt to benefit the Iranian citizens financially, one of which is Bitcoins.
As a former Foreign Policy staff member for a Member of the US Congress, I understand the hesitancy some might have to applauding the growth of Bitcoin in Iran. Whereas it is evident that the current regime in Iran has violated international law through disregarding International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards and frequently utilizing hate-filled rhetoric, it is also true that there is a sizable group of Iranian citizens who oppose the totalitarian actions of their government and are working to reform their country. The Iranian Bitcoin question is a touchy subject for most, but can be worked through if viewed through lenses centered on the purpose of the Bitcoin currency.
Whereas Bitcoin is a digital, decentralized currency, it serves as a source of empowerment for individuals around the world to take the initiative to control personal finances and become financially independent from a centralized source of control. In some nations, the desire to be independent from a central bank is not as strong as not all nations have authoritarian leadership and high inflation rates. Yet for some nations Bitcoin provides a source of financial security and promise outside of any centralized currency to citizens.
Coin Ava’s launch this week has prompted dialogue once again over the many purposes of the Bitcoin currency and the intrinsic value this digital, decentralized currency holds of citizens living under the auspices of an authoritarian government. From the perspective of a former Capitol Hill staffer who ardently opposses Iranian nuclear development, hate speech, and human rights violations, I see the growth of the Bitcoin currency in Iran as a way for the iranians to single-handedly aid their financial situation. Where there is a will, there is a way, and Iranian citizens have worked to combat Iranian leadership’s poor decision making with the Bitcoin currency.