Iranian Bitcoin Adoption Surges Amid Political Protests and Censorship
Reports are indicating that Iranian bitcoin adoption is continuing to grow despite the current political turmoil gripping the nation.
Bitcoin Adoption Grows Despite Government Censorship of Online Networks
Iran has witnessed widespread protests for the last week, with the media reporting that more than 20 individuals have been killed so far during the demonstrations. The protests have been attributed to popular dissatisfaction with high unemployment, inequality, housing costs, and other economic strains.
The rebellion has seen the deployment of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in three provinces, and censorship of numerous online networks – including Telegram and Signal. Despite the restricted access and rolling internet blackouts, Iran’s cryptocurrency community appears to be gaining strength during the turmoil.
Iranians Turn to Cryptocurrency as Safeguard Against Economic Uncertainty
Tehran-based blockchain researcher, Ziya Sadr, recently discussed both the protests and cryptocurrency in Iran with media, stating “I hold all my money, all my capital, in bitcoin mostly and some other altcoins… The reason that I hold only crypto is because of the economic situation in Iran.” Mr. Sadr stated that he has “seen people around me doing so gradually,” and expects that “more and more people will do so.” Mr. Sadr also stated that Monero is one his favored altcoins, owing to its enhanced privacy capabilities. Mr. Sadr added that privacy-centric cryptocurrencies have yet to garner widespread popularity in Iran largely due to the government having taken no overt actions indicating that it would seek to prohibit bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Mr. Sadr stated Iran’s cryptocurrency community possesses the experience, skills, and resources required to weather the government’s moves to censor online activities, stating “Last week the [internet] connection is horrible. You can’t get signal anywhere. It’s mostly [bad] internet connections. But sometimes it’s phones too. It is really confusing for normal people. They don’t know how to communicate in the past few days. Although most [tech-savvy] Iranians are well equipped for such blockages because we’ve been dealing with social media blocks for a long time.”
Iran Witnesses Record Peer-to-Peer Bitcoin Trading Volume
Data published by Coindance indicates that peer-to-peer trade between the Iranian rial (IRR) and bitcoin witnessed record volume during the build-up to Iran’s protests over recent weeks. The record 70+ billion IRR worth of bitcoin traded during the week of the 23rd of December comprised more than a 1000% increase in volume when compared to markets’ preceding record of 6.3 billion IRR from early November. Mr. Sadr also stated that Iranian peer-to-peer bitcoin trade has surged amid the turmoil, adding “A few days ago we bought 100 bitcoins in the morning and we sold them by noon.”
<figure id="attachment_96912" style="width: 696px" class="wp-caption aligncenter">
<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">IRR/BTC Trade Volume from 2014</figcaption>
One Iranian posting on Twitter chose to incorporate the topic of cryptocurrency into a political slogan, posting “In the protests you should chant: Citizens, citizens, exchange your money for litecoin.”
Do you think that Iran’s spike in bitcoin adoption has been boosted by the nation’s prevailing economic woes? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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