TRM Labs recently researched Iranian crypto adoption and published key findings about exchanges and trading volumes.
Nobitex remained the most dominant exchange
One of the key findings was associated with crypto exchanges.
The TRM analysis concluded that the already dominant crypto exchange Nobitex remained the most prevalent in the year, processing around 87% of all incoming crypto trading volume within Iranian bounds. Essentially, Nobitex received about $2.6 billion in transaction volumes.
Another four crypto exchanges, including Aban Tether, Bit24.cash, Excoino, and Wallex.ir all combined for the remaining 12% of the trading volume. Furthermore, about 0.5% were interexchange transactions, with the most dominant sender being Wallex.ir, and the recipient being Nobitex.
The second largest of the Iranian exchanges was Wallex.ir, which completed about 7.3% of transactions. Excoino was the third largest, with transaction volumes of 2.4%, while Aban Tether and Bit24.Cash supported 1.7% and 0.9% of the volumes, respectively.
Interestingly, a large chunk of the funds coming to Iranian exchanges was from high-level KYC clearance accounts.
For instance, about $2.6 billion of all the funds was transacted through level 3 KYC accounts. Level 3 demands stringent verification measures. However, about $286 million passed through level 1 KYC clearance accounts where no document is needed.
Of all funds passing through Iranian exchanges, 60% came from alien services outside Iran, with global crypto exchanges accounting for most sending and receiving wallets.
Based on the TRM reports, about 90.3% of counterparty funds sent to Iranian exchanges were from external exchanges. 4.9% came from smart contracts, and 4% was via unhosted wallets.
The amount sent from Iranian exchanges to global counterparties represented around 66.5%. Unhosted wallets received 32.6%, while smart contracts 0.5%.
This analysis also looked at the volumes transacted through blockchains. The discovery was that Tron accounted for 65.1% of the volume, hence was the largest Chain in Iran. The second was BNB Chain, followed by ethereum and bitcoin, accounting for 25%, 6.5%, and 2.9%, respectively.
Sanctions and illegalities
Some Iranians have used VPNs and bought illegal identification documents from foreign countries to obscure some illegal transactions and use global exchanges. Based on reports, the practice is widely discouraged by the top exchanges in the country.
In this same period, OFAC-sanctioned entities sent some funds to Iranian exchanges. For instance, the Garantex exchange sent around $1.2 million to Iranian exchanges. Two SDN-listed individuals, i.e., Ahmad Khatibi Aghada and Amir Hossein Nikaeen Ravari, sent a total of $110,000 to Iranian trading platforms.
Even more interesting is that despite Iran being under sanctions, “the proportion of illicit volume received by Iranian exchanges – 0.08% – was slightly less than the global average in 2022.”