Iranian university students without a bank account turn to Bitcoin to pay tuition fees

Stranded Iranian students in the UK have turned to Bitcoin to circumvent the economic sanctions imposed on their country, according to a Guardian report. Parsa Sadat, a law student at the University of Reading, is one of a crowd of Iranian students who cannot pay their tuition and are completely stranded in school after Iran was sanctioned by US President Donald Trump last month.

Sadat and his Iranian fellow students are threatened with revocation of their student visas after the sanctions made it impossible to pay their tuition fees. While Sadat’s family has the small change to pay his tuition fees, he cannot raise the funds because US sanctions have prevented money transfers from Iran.

As a result, he has been told by university management that his only option is to return home over the Christmas season and come back with the necessary tuition fees (£ 5,350) to make the payments for the next academic term.

Sadat, who is at the university last year, said he had been warned five times about his fees, including the threat of his suspension. But even if he did go home and get the money, returning with the cash – especially from a country that the UK Foreign Office has classified as a high risk country – could be difficult.

One of Sadat’s lecturers, Professor Mai Sato, said it was dangerous for Sadat to move such large sums of money from Iran to the UK and urged the university to stand up against the injustice inflicted on students .

“Even if the funds for flights and fees can be raised, the Parsa, having to transport large amounts of cash within and out of a country classified by the Federal Foreign Office as a high-risk country, is subject to legitimate criticism of the university. Parsa himself considers it dangerous to carry several thousand pounds in cash. “

The US government announced in May that it was considering withdrawing from the 2015 US-Iran nuclear deal in order to reinstate the sanctions the deal was designed to lift.

The sanctions were eventually enforced, with the country’s commercial banks being removed from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network. With this exclusion, the Iranian central bank is cut off from the rest of the world and cannot do business with financial institutions anywhere in the world.

Despite the sanctions, the British government has promised that it will continue to try to maintain banking relationships with Iranian companies if necessary. A prime minister’s spokesman said the office “[regrets] the re-imposition of sanctions by the US, ”and the country has endeavored to trade with Iran, even if banks shy away from commercial dealings due to the weight of the sanctions.

While waiting for a permanent solution to their predicament, some students have found a temporary solution to get funds from Iran. Maziar Bahari, editor of local news agency, told The Guardian that hundreds of students have been affected by banking restrictions, but some of them are now “using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to get money from their families in Iran.” .

In response to these sanctions, the country appears to be turning to cryptocurrencies, taking advantage of its unregulated and decentralized nature to ensure that financial activities and transactions, especially for businesses, continue as normal.

In an interview with local television, Alireza Daliri, deputy for management and investments at the Directorate of Scientific and Technological Affairs, said that the country was already working on the development of a digital currency.

He explained:

“This currency would make it easier to transfer money (to and from) anywhere in the world. It can also help us with sanctions. “

The move was widely criticized by the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The agency urged crypto exchanges to ensure they monitor Iranian use of cryptocurrencies in order to circumvent the sanctions.

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