Iranian Students in UK Choose Bitcoin to Circumvent US Sanctions
According to the Guardian, hundreds of Iranians students in the United Kingdom have been denied banking services. As a result, they are falling behind their payment dues, including their tuition fees. 23-year old Parsa Sadat, a law student at the University of Reading, for instance, has been told to either go to Iran and bring money in cash or face expulsion from his course.
“Even if the funds for the flight and fees can be raised, requiring Parsa to transport large amounts of cash within and from a country classified by the Foreign Office as a high-risk country, exposes the university to justifiable criticism,” said Mai Sato, an Associate Professor at Reading. “Parsa himself feels that carrying several thousand pounds in cash is dangerous.”
Students Opting Bitcoin
With no solution appearing from the global sphere, students are now forced to take active measures to bypass the US President Trump’s sanctions on Iran.
IranWire.com’s chief editor Maziar Bahari told the Guardian that many Iranian students had started using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, a digital currency that many considers as a useful payment tool to bypass global economic resistances. The protocol underpinning the bitcoin payment tool is decentralized, which means that no central authority can control its functionality. The end-to-end encryption integrated into the bitcoin protocol also makes it semi-anonymous.
An average Iranian parent, therefore, can purchase some units of bitcoin from local exchanges and send them across to the bitcoin wallets of his/her families residing anywhere in the world. The receiver upon receiving the bitcoin funds can again trade them for fiats via a local exchange – over-the-counter or online.
The entire procedure can be done without needing the permission of central authorities. However, some governments require bitcoin users to report their transactions while fearing a rise in money laundering and terrorist financing issues. Iran mainly is against cryptocurrencies and has imposed an outright ban on its use.
Ban on Bitcoin
CCN in July had found that Iranians were nevertheless purchasing bitcoin on prime rates to bypass the US sanctions, right under the nose of the Iranian government.
“I started purchasing Bitcoin, and even Ethereum, thinking Iranian central bank will not be able to resolve the poor economic situation,” a trader, whose identity was kept a secret on her request, told CCN. “I had read many reports about Chinese and Venezuelan people doing the same at the time of their economic crisis.”
It appears that Iranian parents will be risking themselves if they decided to fund their children’s education using bitcoin unless Iran agrees to reconsider its stance on cryptocurrencies.
Images from Shutterstock.
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