Iran allows use of crypto for imports amid sanctions

Quick Take

  • Iran is allowing businesses to use crypto for import transactions, according to the semiofficial news agency Tasnim.
  • This could allow the country to circumvent some sanctions.

A new law from Iran is allowing the use of crypto in the processing of imports, according to semiofficial Iranian news agency Tasnim

The change comes under an agreement between the Ministry of Industry and the Central Bank of Iran. It allows businesses to transact in crypto for imports, including cars. Those transactions would previously have been executed in dollars or euros. 

Iran remains sanctioned by the US over its nuclear program. Using crypto rather than fiat currencies is one means to circumvent trade embargoes and sanctions. US lawmakers have raised the alarm over crypto as a sanctions-evasion tool in recent months, citing the possibility that heavily sanctioned Russian entities are leveraging crypto to mitigate the fallout. Now, it's possible Iran is looking to do the same.

Indeed, in 2020, the commander of Khatam-al Anbiya Construction, an engineering firm controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, reportedly called for the use of cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions.

Industry, Mines and Trade Minister Reza Fatemi Amin said the decision was finalized by the administration on Sunday, according to Tasnim. Alireza Peymanpak, a deputy Iranian trade minister who leads Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization (TPO), told Tasnim crypto and smart contract will be widely used in foreign trade with target countries by the end of September.

The first import order using crypto took place earlier this month, Peymanpak told Tasnim. The transaction totaled $10 million.

The approval for crypto use in imports appears to be part of a wider resolution detailing crypto regulations. Trade Minister Seyed Reza Fatemi Amin told Tasnim the law tackles all issues related to crypto-assets, including licensure and energy allocation for mining.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.