Many of you are probably familiar with Telegram, a chat app that allow you to access all kinds of different channels and garner information pertaining to some of your favorite subjects. You can talk to anyone in the world using Telegram, but the app offers more than just chat options – it boasts its own crypto.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s happy about this. The nation of Iran, which has had a rather mixed to negative relationship with cryptocurrencies, is now banning access to Telegram in its attempts to crackdown on the usage of digital assets, which regulators say bring criminal activity to Iran.
Secretary of the Criminal Content Definition Task Force Javad Javidnia says that anyone caught using Telegram in Iran or utilizing Gram – the app’s cryptocurrency – will be subject to national security laws and will be given the appropriate punishment.
We’re Watching You
In addition, regulators will also see the action as a means of disrupting the national economy. Kind of a harsh move on their part, but in any case, users can expect to see officials bringing the hammer down if they step out of place.
“One of the most important factors in banning Telegram was a sense of serious economic threat from its activities, which was unfortunately marginalized and neglected due to the fuss in the political atmosphere of the country.”
Who Else Has a Vendetta Against Telegram?
Iran isn’t the only region to look down on Telegram and consider it a national threat. In Russia, Telegram has also been banned when in 2018, the chat application held its own initial coin offering (ICO). Russian officials explained they were worried about the fundraising plan due to potential fraud and lagging investor safety.
Iran believes Telegram’s entry into the blockchain and cryptocurrency space could “undermine the national currency of Iran.” The country is under strict sanctions set forth by President Donald Trump and the United States and has experienced inflation and economic damage as a result.
Iran Has Never Liked Digital Currency
To be fair, however, Iran has always held a particularly negative attitude towards cryptocurrency, having gone so far as to restrict access to cryptocurrency exchanges in 2018 thanks, in part, to bitcoin’s increased popularity among the country’s residents.
At the same time, however, the country has been discussing the notion of building its own cryptocurrency for years as a way of avoiding sanctions in the future, though it appears officials don’t want any competition getting in the way. The country’s central bank is reportedly working with other institutions to control the influx of digital currencies in Iran like bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin to discourage their use and get residents to see the national virtual currency as their only payment option.
The Fight for Crypto Continues
Last February, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi – minister of Iran’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology – released the following message on Twitter:
“In a meeting with the board of directors of Post Bank on digital currencies based on the blockchain, I prescribed measures to implement the country’s first cloud-based digital currency.”
In 2017, the country temporarily restricted access to both Telegram and the social media giant Instagram after a nationwide protest. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also enforced a full ban on Telegram use by government officials following the protest’s breakup.
Iran isn’t the only rogue nation to try and pull its own cryptocurrency out of a hat. 2018 was saturated with stories regarding Venezuela and the petro, a digital asset that President Nicolas Maduro alleged was backed by the country’s many oil reserves. The currency has spawned controversy throughout the industry and petro-trading has been officially banned in the U.S.