Iran blocks access to cryptocurrency exchanges
That's how you really lay down a crypto ban.
Different countries are exploring the implications of cryptocurrency and distributed ledger technology in different ways.
In the middle, you have countries, including Australia, that are looking at implementing balanced regulations to curb cryptocurrency's Wild West tendencies while still fostering innovation, and you have countries like Brazil that are implementing zero regulations and letting things take their course.
And on the opposite side, you have the countries that end up anti-crypto, either deliberately or accidentally. The accidental ones might be those where the established banks are given free rein to quash the crypto scene, such as Ireland and briefly Chile. The deliberate ones are those where the governments take deliberate steps to stamp out cryptocurrency to the greatest extent possible. India and China both make the list with varying degrees of effectiveness.
Iran might be showing how it's done though, with what might be one of the most unexpected and successful crypto crackdowns anywhere in the world. It's still not easy though.
How to kill crypto
"Every crypto exchange in Iran [has been] filtered since May," said an anonymous resident of Iran to CoinDesk. Others back it up, saying they can't access online exchanges.
It's a sharp about-face from earlier perceptions. At the start of 2017, most surveyed residents said they felt like the Iranian government would be advancing a cryptocurrency agenda, and the country's technology minister has floated the idea of a national digital currency to better escape US sanctions.
Now it's looking like access to exchanges and peer-to-peer trading platforms is being blocked – even those accessed through VPNs.
The likely reason is because giving citizens a direct line to cryptocurrency only serves to further destabilise the Iranian riyal through capital flight and through further difficulties enacting effective economic policies to maintain stability in the face of sanctions. Iran's economic committee has previously criticised cryptocurrency traders for siphoning "more than $2.5 billion" out of the country.
With ongoing civil unrest and sanctions set for renewal later in the year, getting a grip on its citizen's money movement might be needed to maintain stability.
As un-crypto as it might be, it's probably in everyone's best interests to avoid turning into another Venezuela. But that might be little consolation to those losing their wealth and then losing their connection to crypto.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC and NANO.