Iran has followed China’s footsteps as it moves to ban cryptocurrency mining in the nation. This comes after a series of blackouts across major cities in the nation, in the latest sign of growing unease over the digital asset’s energy usage.
The ban is effective immediately and will last until September 22, President Hassan Rouhani said on state TV on Wednesday.
It follows a regional ban from top Bitcoin miner, China, and electric car maker, Tesla Inc.’s decision to stop selling cars using the token. Both cited environmental concerns, triggering a drop in Bitcoin’s value from April’s record high of $64,863.10.
Iranian officials blame a surge in cryptocurrency mining as well as increased manufacturing and a drop in hydroelectricity supply for blackouts that are playing havoc with businesses and daily life.
The government had before now, been cracking down on the 85% of mining that is unlicensed by enlisting spies to locate miners who hide computers everywhere from homes to mosques. Subsidized power prices allow miners to run the complex computers that compete to solve mathematical problems and receive Bitcoin as a reward.
The University of Cambridge estimates Iran was home to 3.4% of Bitcoin mining in the first four months of 2020, putting it in sixth place globally, with China far in front at 69.3%. Another estimate by analytics company Elliptic puts the Islamic Republic’s share at more than a percentage point higher.
Bitcoin is currently trading $39,450, currently up 5.62% in the last 24 hours, at the time of writing this report.