Iran has made the country’s first cryptocurrency payment with a US$10 million import order this week, which could be an option for the country to bypass broad trade embargoes, according to a media report.

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Fast facts

  • It did not disclose the counterparty to the transaction or which cryptocurrency was used, as Iranian news agency Tasnim reported on Tuesday by citing a tweet from the country’s vice minister of industry, mine and trade.
  • Vice minister Alireza Peyman-Pak also said the country could widely use cryptocurrency and smart contracts in foreign trade. 
  • Iran is under an embargo from various countries, and the U.S. imposes a near-total economic blockade on Iran, including a ban on all imports, including from the country’s oil, banking and shipping sectors.
  • Crypto analytics firm Elliptic said that 4.5% of Bitcoin mining takes place in Iran, allowing the country to circumvent trade embargoes and earn hundreds of millions of dollars in crypto assets that can be used to buy imported goods and avoid trade sanctions.
  • The Iran central bank said in June that it would launch the pilot of its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the crypto rial, on Aug. 23.

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