Russia and Iran have expressed interest in developing their own digital currencies to help combat U.S.-imposed sanctions, following this week's successful launch of Venezuela's first cryptocurrency, the Petro.
Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, head of Iran's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, said the test model for a "cloud-based digital currency" is currently under development and will be submitted to the Iranian bank system soon.
The Iranian official announced the move following a meeting with the state-owned Post Bank of Iran on Wednesday, according to NPR.
The Central Bank of Iran, however, has denied the rumors. According to Iran Front Page News, the bank emphasized the "highly unreliable and risky" nature of the digital currency market, warning investors they "may lose their financial assets" in a realm rife with "pyramid schemes."
Meanwhile, Venezuelan Financial Minister Simon Zerpa Delgado was in Russia this week, where he spoke with officials about strengthening collaboration and about the Latin American nation's newly launched cryptocurrency.
En esta reunión hemos pasado revista a la cooperacion económica y financiera entre ambos países, con énfasis en el nuevo criptoactivo de Venezuela: El Petro. Entregamos al Min. Siluánov información actualizada de nuestra criptomoneda. pic.twitter.com/BYSFZvIdaf— Simón Zerpa Delgado (@SimonZerpaD) February 21, 2018
Russian officials have previously exchanged ideas about issuing some kind of digital equivalent of the ruble to circumvent U.S. sanctions, according to The New York Times.
China and Singapore have also expressed interest in creating their own forms of cryptocurrency, but experts say the nations will wait to judge Venezuela's success with the Petro before bringing their own versions to market.
Responding to the interest by countries sanctioned by the United States and European Union, Mati Greenspan, a senior market analyst at social trading firm eToro, called cryptocurrencies an "excellent idea."
"(Russian President Vladimir) Putin and Maduro have very similar problems," he said. "They both have a high dependence on the price of crude oil, which has been rather unstable in the last few years. They both have issues with U.S. sanctions and with the U.S. dollar being the world reserve currency.
"To think that of all the governments and banks who are toying with the idea, it would be Nicolas Maduro who gets there first."
Maduro said Thursday that his government had raised US$1 billion in the first two days of its Petro cryptocurrency sale.