Taliban Launches Crackdown on Crypto Use in Afghanistan

The Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist group, are cracking down on cryptocurrency traders in Afghanistan. Bloomberg media reported the matter on Friday.

Sayed Shah Sa’adaat, a senior Afghan police officer, had a conversation with Bloomberg about the crackdown.

Afghanistan’s economy has suffered since late last year when the Taliban took control over the jurisdiction on 15th August 2021. The Taliban’s capture has pushed large parts of the country further into poverty.

Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul last year, Afghans turned to the use of cryptocurrency as the legacy money system has come to a standstill.

The Taliban have the police force under their control. In June, Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban group introduced a new uniform for its national police force, saying the move would lead to improved security in the conflict-torn nation.

Since returning to power, the Taliban have relied on their widely feared insurgent security force to handle law and order across the country amid persistent criticism that the absence of a police uniform and a lack of police training are encouraging the men to engage in criminal activities or misuse of power.

Since their comeback, most bank offices shut down, and those that were operating witnessed long queues of customers trying to withdraw cash.

Foreign donations and payments have not been not possible via the banking system. As a result, transferring funds directly to a person’s Bitcoin wallet became a more feasible option.

However, a year later, the Taliban authorities are now clamping down on the local cryptocurrency market. So far, the Taliban police force has detained 13 local crypto business owners and shut down their cryptocurrency-related enterprises.

Sa’adaat, the head of the counter-crime unit of Herat police, said that more than 20 crypto-related businesses have been shut down in the country’s third largest city, Herat, where three-quarters of the country’s crypto brokerages are located.

According to Sa’adat, the Central Bank of Afghanistan outlawed cryptocurrency trading as the practice encouraged scams.

“The central bank gave us an order to stop all money changers, individuals, and businesspeople from trading fraudulent digital currencies like what is commonly referred to as Bitcoin,” he stated.

Saadat said the crackdown came as a response to some Afghans storing their money in cryptocurrency to keep it away from the Taliban.

In June, the Taliban-controlled Central Bank banned all online foreign exchange trading.

In February, the armed group announced that they would discuss whether digital tokens could be permitted under Islamic financial customs.

However, religious experts had long predicted that the Taliban authorities would outlaw crypto because it has aspects of gambling and uncertainty, which Muslims consider as sinful.

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Pope Francis’s Pontifex Carpet Gift Sold as NFT for Charity Purpose in Afghanistan

A Pontifex carpet gifted to Pope Francis by Sheikh Mohamad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, during his visit to the Vatican in September 2016, was sold as a non-fungible token (NFT) for 25 Eths, approximately $81,886 on January 14.

The original carpet, 272cm x 183cm, is woven by Afghan women, the physical version of the Pontifex carpet remains with Pope Francis at present. Zuleya, a retail arm of the Fatima Bint Mohamed bin Zayed Initiative, created a replica measuring 187cm x 125cm to be presented to anyone who buys it as an NFT.

The proceeds are to be channelled for a good cause of helping needy families in Afghanistan based on the challenge of harsh winter, according to local media outlet Khaleej Times.

Musfir Khawaja, the co-founder of nftOne, welcomed this move and stated:

 “This is perhaps the most iconic NFT to be sold in the Middle East. The buyer will get the physical replica of the carpet besides an ornate gold frame on a 165cm digital canvas with the NFT loaded on it.”

The chief executive of the initiative, Maywand Jabarkhyl, believed that NFTs would be a game-changer in offering a crucial step forward of opening new revenue streams for Afghan artisans by presenting a larger global audience. 

With NFTs being among the trendy digital assets, their total sales reached $25 billion in 2021, as reported by Blockchain.News. Furthermore, their market capitalization stood at $31.6 billion at the close of last year.

The proof of ownership guaranteed by NFTs is one of the factors making them tick. For instance, Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary, recently aired his bullish sentiments by stating that NFTs had a more prominent shot of surpassing Bitcoin because they can digitally show ownership of real-world things.


With NFTs being non-divisible and finite, these characteristics are creating their intrinsic value.  

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The Taliban will never understand crypto, according to founder of LEARN Afghanistan

Pashtana Durrani, the founder of an organization working to make education available to women and girls across Afghanistan as the country remains under Taliban rule, said the Islamic fundamentalist group has poor financial literacy, especially when it comes to crypto.

In a Wednesday interview with political commentator Tommy Vietor from Pod Save the World, LEARN Afghanistan founder Pashtana Durrani said the international community — particularly the United States — should consider removing the sanctions imposed on Afghanistan and unfreezing funds controlled by foreign governments. According to Durrani, limiting foreign aid to Afghanistan through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other entities gives the Taliban an advantage, as opposed to using the latest technology, including cryptocurrency.

“When I say unfreeze the assets, send it in cryptocurrency — the Taliban will never understand it,” said Durrani. “Send it to a private bank — they will never be able to access it […] Taliban don’t have bank accounts. Taliban were people who were fighting in rural and very mountainous regions. They had no time to go to a bank, fill out the forms and have that.”

Pashtana Durrani speaking on Pod Save the World

Following the almost immediate takeover by the Taliban in August, Afghanistan has faced a number of crises. In addition to the threat imposed by having armed religious extremists in control of the government, millions of Afghans are facing food insecurity and economic hardship. Many residents are still unable to withdraw cash from banks as the international community attempts to impose restrictions aimed at hurting the Taliban.

“The sanction is only hurting the people who had savings in the bank accounts. It’s hurting the teachers, it’s hurting the students, it’s hurting all those people who actually worked in the past two decades — it’s never going to hurt Taliban.”

Many nonprofit organizations helping Afghan refugees relocate to foreign countries have asked for crypto donations using Bitcoin (BTC) and other tokens, but Durrani has called on using digital assets as a force for good in the face of what she considers to be ineffective sanctions. In the digital age, good samaritans have sometimes completely bypassed official sanctions imposed by the U.S. to donate directly to people impacted by war, famine, or other disasters in countries like Iran and Yemen.

Related: Crypto can alleviate the financial fallout for people in Afghanistan

“Afghanistan can be put into those great lists of [the Financial Action Task Force] and all that,” said Durrani. “It could be one of those countries where you just start using cryptocurrency — legitimize it, whatever — but at the end of the day you’re hurting the wrong kind of people to punish the people who are in power.”