The World of Cryptocurrency in Turkey
What is the current state of cryptocurrency in Turkey?
You might be wondering why Turkey was chosen for this article, when we had a large panel of countries that we could study.
A few weeks ago, Mehdi and Mohamed were in Istanbul, Turkey for the Webrazzi event. It was an excellent event, and we thank Arda Kutsal (Founder of Webrazzi) and the whole Webrazzi team for having hosted and welcoming us so warmly!
In speaking with several blockchain enthusiasts and influential players in cryptocurrency, there were people with very specific knowledge and strong experience in this field.
In addition, they were amazed to see many people on site who had already heard of Dether, and who had even evaluated the alpha.
All of this gave them the brilliant idea to write about this growing and very ambitious community, in order to gather the opinions of several players on cryptocurrency and blockchain.
In parallel, they also interviewed a member of Dether’s community (Talat Kocaman) living in Turkey — who has a mastery of the world of cryptocurrency in this country. “I live in Istanbul, Turkey. My cousin showed me some dice sites when I was 15, and I started to wonder about cryptocurrency. I found the forum, and then I started to follow for the free stuff they were giving away on the forum. Now, I’ve became a bounty manager for several projects.”
Today, the position of the Turkish government about cryptocurrency is still unclear.
On the one hand, Turkish Central Bank Governor, Murat Cetinkaya, emphasized that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies could contribute to global financial stability with its decentralized and peer-to-peer (P2P) financial network.
On the other hand, Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, said that the cryptocurrency, and more particularly, bitcoin, is frequently used for illegal activities, and is not regulated enough, making cryptocurrencies more volatile than classic currencies: “Buying and selling virtual currencies is not compatible with religion at this time, due to the fact that their valuation is open to speculation, they can be easily used in illegal activities like money laundering. Moreover, they are not under the state’s audit and surveillance,” he said.
However, the Türkiye Cumhuriyet Merkez Bankası is only in the general observation phase, and there is no law in place concerning the ban on cryptocurrencies, despite the most recent law in 2013 that sought to “prevent the use of alternative spending methods, such as bitcoin, ethereum, and ripple, for illegal gambling activities.”
For Talat: “A lot of people don’t understand cryptocurrency: they see this as an investment tool and put their money in coins they even don’t know about. So unfortunately, our deputies think this is a Ponzi scheme, and they describe things like bitcoin very negatively. They constantly give speeches telling people not to use it.”
Access to cryptocurrency in Turkey
Access to cryptocurrency has been growing over the last year. For example, in November, about 140 bitcoins were exchanged through the localbitcoins site in Turkey, which is about 3 million dollars.
Coin Dance LocalBitcoins Volume (Turkey)
Today, it’s easy for a Turkish citizen to have access to cryptocurrency like bitcoin, with Turkish platforms like paribu.com and BTCTurk, where they can exchange the Turkish lira for bitcoin or ether. But for İlker OĞUZ, founder of Kimlic, they lack Turkish exchanges that give access to other cryptocurrencies such as “altcoins,” which forces Turks to head to English sites, where unfortunately they don’t master the language.
BTCTurk: A Turkish exchange where you can buy BTC or ETH against TRY
The use of cryptocurrencies in Turkey
Lately, bitcoin’s price has become stratospheric, continuing to rise and encouraging several Turkish stores to accept it as a means of payment.
In Turkey, shopping with bitcoin is theoretically possible, from real estate to furniture. The number of Turkish companies accepting bitcoin as means of payment has increased greatly.
Currently, 40 to 50 companies officially accept payment by bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies, according to a Turkish newspaper ‘Milliyet’. There are several Turkish companies like Miavita, Binbircesit that accept payment by bitcoin or ether.
Miavita is the first real estate company that accepts bitcoin as a means of payment, and it already has several interested customers ready to pay in bitcoin; Talat, however, is still skeptical:
“A lot of Turkish websites accept bitcoin, but they aren’t well-known here. So in reality, nobody is accepting cryptocurrencies. Yes, there are some Turkish real estate companies, who accept bitcoin — but still, I’ve never heard of anyone who bought real estate with bitcoin.”
For Gokhan Seckin, the second co-founder of Kimlic, payment by cryptocurrency is still minimal, and there will need to be a great effort to promote the mass adoption of cryptourrencies in Turkey. He says he still has to pay with his TenX or Revolut card when he wants to pay for his coffee.
After speaking with several blockchain followers at the Webrazzi event, it became apparent that most people involved in the cryptocurrency world tended to be involved in mining. Thanks to the reasonable price of electricity in Turkey ($15,52 per 100 kWh due to a low minimum wage of $529,108 per month).
“Our people are very interested in earning money using their computers. I just talked one of my friend’s dads, who’s trying to run ETHminers. A lot of Turkish miners use their companies’ electricity to run their miners,” added Talat.
During this event, the Dether team was able to meet with the heads of several very interesting Turkish projects that promise to innovate the future of blockchain in the country.
There is Colendi, which is a blockchain-based decentralized credibility evaluation and microcredit, or even Kimlic, which is a mobile application that allows a user to simplify daily identification routines by reducing office visits and paperwork, and saving time. In addition, there are even projects like Blokzincir.io that provides blockchain solutions to solve the problems of several industries using blockchain technologies through custom private blockchains and blockchain technology.
Yagub Rahimov, an Expert Blockchain/ICO adviser, (currently involved in the NAGA project) was present at the Webrazzi event, saying: “the future of blockchain technology in Turkey is very promising, and many projects will emerge and will make cryptocurrencies more accessible in this active country.”
Talat defined Akche as the current biggest blockchain project in Turkey.