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Iran says it's developing a cryptocurrency to get around US sanctions

Iran announced on Wednesday that it is moving forward with plans to develop its own cryptocurrency in an effort to dodge U.S. sanctions. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

In an effort to circumvent U.S. sanctions, Iran is moving forward with plans to develop its own national cryptocurrency.

They're doing what?

State-run Iranian news outlet PressTV reported Wednesday that the Central Bank of Iran is working with domestic technology firms on the project and expects a new national encryption key using blockchain technology will be introduced into the country's banking system within the next three months.

According to PressTV, an official from the technological directorate of the Iranian Presidential Office made the announcement to local media.

Alireza Daliri, deputy for management and investment affairs, said in a statement, "We are trying to prepare the grounds to use a domestic digital currency in the country. This currency would facilitate the transfer of money (to and from) anywhere in the world. Besides, it can help us at the time of sanctions."

On the same day, Iran's Central Bank fired its governor, Valiollah Seif, amid criticism that he had not prepared for sanctions being reintroduced.

The Iranian government has gone back and forth about the use of cryptocurrency in the past year, as its leaders struggle to adjusting monetary policy in an effort to reverse the declined in value of the country's current rial currency.

Anything else?

Iran is taking a page out of Venezuela's playbook with its plan to develop its own digital currency. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro introduced the roll-out of its oil-backed "Petro" cryptocurrency last year — also for the purpose of dodging U.S. sanctions.

In his announcement to Venezuelan citizens, Maduro said the Petro would help the country "advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade."

A month later, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning U.S. citizens from trading in Petro.

But Venezuela's money woes haven't gone away, as Maduro's government continues to make desperate moves to try and squelch the socialist country's runaway inflation.

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