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North Korea reportedly in early stages of developing bitcoin-like national cryptocurrency

Thu, 19 Sep 2019, 10:15 am UTC

North Korea appears to be the latest country to undertake the cryptocurrency route to avoid international sanctions.

Alejandro Cao de Benos, the official in charge of North Korea’s cryptocurrency conferences told Vice that the country is in early stages of developing its own cryptocurrency. The objective, he said, is to “avoid crippling international sanctions and circumvent the U.S.-dominated global financial system.”

Cao de Benos said that the cryptocurrency will be “more like bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies,” adding that they are currently studying “the goods that will give value to it.”

North Korea's Embassy to the U.N. in New York neither confirmed nor denied Cao de Benos's claims. “I am not in a position to give you an answer,” an embassy spokesperson said.

Cao de Benos also claimed that some foreign companies have signed contracts with the North Korean government to develop blockchain-based systems for education, medicine and finance sectors. However, he said that the names of these companies could not be revealed, “due to sanctions and fake news.”

Earlier in April, North Korea held its first blockchain conference. The second cryptocurrency and blockchain conference is slated to be held in February 2020.

In a recent report, the United Nations estimated that North Korea, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), stole $2 billion from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges via cyberattacks to finance its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. North Korea outrightly refuted the accusations calling them “sheer lie” and claiming that the U.S. and other hostile forces are spreading these rumors with “no scientific background.”

A number of countries are increasingly looking to cryptocurrencies to bypass international financial sanctions. Venezuela has already launched its national cryptocurrency ‘Petro’, while Cuba and Iran are reportedly considering launching their own cryptocurrency.

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