Preliminary results show name of currency will change and four zeros will be removed from value
On Saturday, the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran launched a website allowing the public to vote on key decisions relating to the future of the Iranian currency.
The central bank sought public opinion on what the name of the currency should be: the choices being for it to remain the ‘rial’ as it is currently known, or to become either the ‘toman’, ‘parsi’ or ‘derik’.
"We have had about 100,000 visits to the site so far, and 10,000 votes," said Payman Ghorbani, director of the economic research and policy department. "The results so far show that 46% of the voters prefer the name parsi."
The rial has just 2%, the derik has 13% and the toman 33%.
The central bank is as yet undecided on when they will call a halt to the vote, so there is time for this outcome to change.
In the online survey, the central bank also asked respondents how many zeros should be removed from the currency. The government has proposed cutting four zeros, and so far the public agrees, with 61% of votes.
"We are pleased to see our programme for reform is in accordance with public expectation," said Ghorbani.
Currently, the biggest Iranian banknote is 100,000 rials, which is worth $9.4.
The poll also asked the public about any anxiety regarding inflation if zeros were to be removed from the currency’s value. Generally, the public seemed minimally concerned, with 28% saying they believed the change would have no effect, 29% saying there would be a slight effect and 24% said there would be an impact on inflation. Only 8% expressed any real apprehension about a big effect.
"Most people have a clear and right idea about there being no inflationary impact," said Ghorbani.
The central bank also quizzed people on their payment method preferences. A convincing 74% of votes so far show the public preferred e-payment methods, with 64% of respondents saying they carry out more than 30% of money transactions using electronic banking. Just 1% of participants preferred using personal cheques and 24% liked using cash.
In terms of the appearance of the new banknotes, Imam Khomeini, the first supreme leader of Iran, will continue to appear on the front of the notes. The public has been voting on what they would like to see featured on the reverse side and so far, 40% of voters have said they would like to see pictures of Iranian scientists, writers and poets on the notes.
The poll results will be taken into account when changes to the currency are finalised. "We believe that for the reform to be successful, the public should be a part of it," said Ghorbani. "We want to understand the public’s concerns and give clear answers. On our website people can download information about the good experiences in other countries with redenomination and there are direct messages from the governor to the public."
If common questions arise out of the survey, the central bank will post the question and answer on the website, Ghorbani said.
In making final decisions about the reform, Ghorbani explained that different institutions will make decisions on the various elements. "The name will ultimately be decided at the highest level," he said. "The central bank will decide on the size of the banknotes and the materials used in the coins, the denominations and how much of each will be produced."
The central bank will also lead the process of transition, offering advice on adjustments to electronic payment systems. Voters have also been consulted on this topic, with the majority wanting to see a one-year period when the two currencies run alongside each other.