Iran-based sellers on peer-to-peer trading platform LocalBitcoins are currently asking for around 1 billion Iranian rials or over $24,000 per Bitcoin (BTC) — well over its 2017 all-time high — as tensions reach a boiling point between Washington and Tehran.
LocalBitcoins lowest offers per BTC. Source: LocalBitcoins
Bitcoin price soars in Iranian rials
The staggering premium in Iran relative to current global market price — around $7,350 — comes in the wake of an airstrike at Baghdad’s airport ordered by United States President Donald Trump that killed the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force, General Qasem Soleimani.
As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, this has led to a surge in global oil prices as well as Bitcoin rebounding from yesterday’s lows of around $6,850.
Founder of crypto analytics outlet Messari Ryan Selkis explains that the premium may be due to Iranians looking to exit Iran’s depreciating national currency, particularly amid the rising prospect of war with the U.S. He notes:
“Bitcoin is trading at nearly $24,000 in the USD equivalent of Iranian Rials on LocalBitcoins today. It’s unlikely those purchases are paying for the Iranian military’s response. Instead, it might be innocent (and desperate) Iranians looking for a way out of the coming chaos.”
Iran restricts access to the Internet, Bitcoin trading
On the other hand, reported trading volumes on LocalBitcoins have hit rock bottom in recent months. This is likely due to Iran’s government restricting internet access across the country since November amid nationwide protests in response to rising fuel prices.
LocalBitcoins weekly trading volume, Iran. Source: Coin.dance
Meanwhile, Iran vowed to seek revenge on the U.S. on Friday following the killing of Soleimani, NBC News reported.
Last month, Cointelegraph reported that Iran was proposing a Muslim cryptocurrency as one of a number of means to confront the economic dominance of the United States.
“The Muslim world should be designing measures to save themselves from the domination of the United States dollar and the American financial regime,” said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Nevertheless, Iran holds an unfavorable position on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general as authorities have offered a bounty to anyone who exposes unauthorized mining operations in the country.