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Iran to launch a pilot for its “Crypto-Rial” on Thursday

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(Kitco News) - Iran’s Chamber of Commerce has reported that the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) plans to launch a pilot program for its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the crypto-rial, beginning on Thursday. 

The crypto-rial is designed to leverage blockchain technology in order to transform Iranian Rial banknotes into a “programmable entity” that can more easily be transacted across borders and around the world. 

According to CBI Governor Ali Salehabadi, “The bank has in place the infrastructure and rules for the crypto-rial. The cryptocurrency is planned as a new type of national currency, like banknotes and coins, but fully digital.”

On top of increasing usability, one of the main features of the crypto-rial touted by the CBI is its high level of security. 

“Crypto-rial has been designed in a way that it is easy to track and even if the data on the smartphones are hacked, the crypto-rial can be tracked,” the announcement from Iran’s Chamber of Commerce said. 

The CBI anticipates that the crypto rail will help improve financial inclusion in the country and serve as a tool to help the economy compete with other stable currencies globally.

This development in Iran is the latest to show the country's increasing interest in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. In early 2022, Iran’s government approved the settling of cross-border payments using cryptocurrency through the Central Bank’s crypto platform. On Aug. 9, the first foreign trade deal of import goods worth $10 million was settled using cryptocurrency. 

China expands its e-CNY trial to four new provinces

Russia to let the private sector explore crypto payments

On Monday, Russia’s head of the Finance Ministry's Financial Policy Department Ivan Chebeskov discussed the country’s draft bill on digital currencies, saying that it should create a framework for settlements, while the details - such as the list of currencies used and the list of counterparty countries - will be determined in practice.

"The Ministry of Finance has developed a bill on digital currencies, it is comprehensive and includes many things,” Chebeskov said. “But in terms of payments, we are rather creating a mechanism for business than building this architecture completely, because it is not completely clear how it should be regulated, so we give businesses the opportunity with this bill to pay with cryptocurrency, but in terms of what cryptocurrencies will be used, how to negotiate with counterparties, with which countries it will operate - all this we are leaving to entrepreneurs.”

Chebeskov suggested that entrepreneurs will collectively be able to figure out the best way for the system to work in a more efficient manner than the authorities would be able to do. 

“And if this needs to be raised to some intergovernmental level, then of course we will also get involved and promote it somehow as part of international cooperation. But rather, since there are already requests from the business, we expect that this will be work that business has either already done or will do in the future,” the official said.

In the long run, Russia’s Ministry of Finance sees a variety of applicable use cases for cryptocurrencies beyond their use in foreign trade transactions.

“The current restrictions are a driver for us to use these technologies, including as a new mechanism for international payments. But in my opinion, this is only a part of all the opportunities that both digital financial assets and digital currencies can provide,” Chebeskov said.

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