Iran to Start Testing a Digital Rial This Week

The Central Bank of Iran will start a central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot on Thursday, according to the news service of the country's Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.

  • In the report, the CBI was quoted saying the goal of the "crypto-rial" is to turn banknotes into programmable entities.
  • The announcement comes after the bank published a draft document outlining the "goals, dimensions, threats and opportunities for the development" of a digital rial in August.
  • In May 2021, former CBI Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati said the bank had already developed a "primary version" of a digital rial. The CBI's current head, Ali Salehabadi, said earlier this month that the bank had the necessary infrastructure and rules in place for a CBDC.
  • Although the country's government views crypto as a means of circumventing strict U.S. sanctions – even placing a $10 million import order to be paid in crypto earlier this year – the CBI has revealed little about its work on a digital rial, or its function.
  • The digital currency is not designed to compete with global cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, according to the report.
  • The central bank did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Read more: Iran Places First Crypto-Funded Import Order, Worth $10M: Report