Business 26 March 2019

Dennis Wafula

Iran’s government wants to save tourism using cryptocurrencies

The Iranian government is looking at increasing cryptocurrency adoption to boost the tourism industry. Following the decision by US President Donald Trump to sanction Iran, the country’s officials seem to have turned to cryptocurrencies to help them get through the sanctions.

Reportedly, the Iranian Cultural Heritage Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (CHTO) are looking to harness the potential of cryptocurrency to help the tourism industry. There are many blockchain and cryptocurrency projects underway in the country. Both the private and public sectors in the country are looking at what the technologies have to offer for the country as a whole.

While speaking to Al-Monitor, Rmoney CEO Mehdi Naseri said:

“The goal of the tourism digital currency system is to solve issues relating to foreign payments. As payment obstacles in this sector are solved, we will witness facilitation of processes in attracting foreign tourists, which, in addition to generating foreign currency revenues, will create many job opportunities.”

Despite previous sanctions on Iran, the country saw a significant boom of $3.3 billion and 33.5 billion in 2015 and 2016, respectively. With the new sanctions already taking effect last year, Iranians authorities want to safeguard one of the country’s largest revenue makers.

One of the major problems tourists have to face in the country is the inability to make payments using mainstream avenues. This is why CHTO is taking actions to ensure there is an alternative payment system for the tourists and other industries in the country.

CHTO is considering many options including the country-backed cryptocurrency. According to the announcement, Iran is seeking to form a partnership with India in an effort of creating a joint Digital currency. The currency will help develop strong tourism ties between the two countries.

However, some believe a state-backed cryptocurrency will not be as effective. While speaking to reporters, Ziya Sadr, a senior executive at IranByBit, a local travel agency said:

“A state-run crypto does not have the potential to address any of the problems of accessibility, acceptability, and reliability of the local currency in tourism. On the other hand, a widely accepted and available cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin could help small businesses in the tourism sector to allow a wide range of customers from anywhere in the world to use their coins inside Iran.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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