Iran to Launch Public Pilot of Central Bank Digital Currency in June


The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) is set to take a significant step towards modernizing its domestic payment infrastructure by launching a public pilot of its central bank digital currency (CBDC), known as the digital rial. This move aims to enhance the efficiency and resilience of Iran’s payment ecosystem, particularly in the realm of micropayments and the digital economy. The iran cbdc project represents a major milestone in the evolution of the iranian rial, the official currency of iran.

Iran’s Digital Rial: An Overview

The digital rial is Iran’s state-controlled CBDC, which has been in development since 2018 using the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain framework. The CBI claims that this digital currency not only increases payment security but also offers a much simpler and more streamlined experience compared to traditional card-based payment methods. The digital rial prototype is designed to function as an electronic form of the iranian rial, providing a new set of digital tools for domestic payments.

Kish Island: The Pilot’s Testbed

The public pilot program of the digital rial will be launched on the island of Kish, a popular tourist destination located in the Persian Gulf. Kish is known for its free trade zone status, which exempts visitors from the need to obtain a visa. This strategic location makes it an ideal testbed for the digital rial’s implementation, as it will allow both domestic banking customers and international tourists to experience the new payment system. The pilot will involve participation from commercial banks such as Mellat Bank and Tejarat Bank.

Enhancing Domestic Micropayments

One of the core objectives behind the digital rial’s development is to improve the efficiency and resilience of Iran’s payment infrastructure, particularly in the realm of small payments. The CBI has emphasized the digital rial’s ability to facilitate seamless, secure, and instantaneous fund transfers between buyers and sellers, without the need for interbank settlement. These electronic banknotes are expected to streamline public payments and enable new forms of payment tools such as barcode payments.

Fostering the Digital Economy

The launch of the digital rial pilot also aims to lay the groundwork for the further development of Iran’s digital economy. By providing an alternative payment method that is tailored to the needs of the modern digital landscape, the CBI hopes to create new business models and opportunities, especially in the e-commerce and digital services sectors. The digital rial could also facilitate the growth of fintech firms and other innovative players in the financial ecosystem.

Addressing Sanctions and Bypassing Restrictions

The introduction of the digital rial comes at a time when Iran has been facing various economic sanctions and restrictions, particularly from the United States. While the CBI has stated that the digital rial is intended solely for domestic use, some analysts speculate that it could potentially be used as a tool to circumvent these U.S. sanctions and facilitate international transactions. However, the use of the digital rial for such purposes could be seen as a national security threat by the U.S. and its allies.

Regulatory Landscape and Cryptocurrency Policies

Iran’s stance on cryptocurrencies has been somewhat mixed. While the country has allowed the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies, it has also banned their use as a means of payment for goods and services. The government has also sought to regulate the domestic cryptocurrency mining industry, which has raised concerns from U.S. lawmakers about the potential national security implications. The digital rial, as a form of private money issued by the central bank, operates within a different regulatory framework compared to decentralized cryptocurrencies.

Partnerships and Collaborations

In the development of the digital rial, the CBI has collaborated with various entities, including the Informatics Services Corporation (ISC), a subsidiary of the central bank. This partnership has been crucial in the technical implementation of the CBDC platform using the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain. The involvement of commercial banks such as Mellat Bank and Tejarat Bank in the pilot program also highlights the collaborative nature of the digital rial project.

Potential Challenges and Considerations

As with any new financial technology, the launch of the digital rial may face several challenges and considerations. These may include issues related to user adoption, integration with existing payment systems, data privacy and security concerns, and regulatory compliance. The high levels of iran inflation and the volatility of the rial to usd conversion rate could also pose challenges for the widespread adoption of the digital rial.

International Implications and Comparisons

The introduction of the digital rial is part of a broader global trend of central banks exploring and experimenting with CBDC technologies. While Iran’s approach may be unique, it can be informative to compare it with the CBDC initiatives of other countries, such as China’s digital yuan and the efforts of the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve. The digital rial could potentially influence the development of international standards and best practices for CBDC implementation.

Roadmap and Future Developments

The CBI has stated that the public pilot on Kish Island is an expansion of the limited pilot that began in 2023. As the digital rial project progresses, it will be crucial to monitor the outcomes of this initial public rollout and any plans for further expansion or enhancements to the CBDC platform. The success of the digital rial in facilitating wholesale settlements and other advanced use cases could pave the way for broader adoption and integration with existing financial systems.


The Central Bank of Iran’s decision to launch a public pilot of its digital rial is a significant step towards modernizing the country’s payment infrastructure and fostering the growth of the digital economy. While the initiative faces various challenges and considerations, it represents Iran’s commitment to embracing emerging financial technologies and exploring new avenues for economic development. The digital rial project could have far-reaching implications not only for Iran but also for the broader global financial landscape.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. Investing in cryptocurrencies involves risks, and readers should conduct their own research and consult with financial advisors before making investment decisions. Hash Herald is not responsible for any profits or losses in the process.


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