Bitcoin Investors Eye Turkey As Lira Plummets 20%
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading volumes on Turkey’s exchanges has surged over recent days as the country battles to contain a currency crisis that looks set to continue into this week.
Koinim, Turkey’s largest exchange, has reported a 63% increase in Bitcoin trading volume, while the BTCTurk and Paribu exchanges have said their volumes are up 35% and 100% respectively, according to CoinMarketCap data.
Unlike Iran, where a ban on bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading means those wanting to buy bitcoin must turn to peer-to-peer exchanges like LocalBitcoins, banks in Turkey often still work with local exchanges, meaning fresh adopters can begin buying and trading more easily.
As a result, bitcoin trading volume in Turkey on LocalBitcoins has not increased as much as it has on local exchanges.
Meanwhile, bitcoin and cryptocurrency users in the country have been speaking of their fears over Turkey’s currency crisis and economy.
One bitcoin user in Istanbul who goes by a pseudonym, Bitmov, told CoinDesk he has been using bitcoin to buy digital ads abroad for over three years.
“I started personally trading crypto 1.5 years ago because of the weakness of the Turkish lira, and fear of the political, and financial, status of the Turkish government,” Bitmov told CoinDesk. “Cryptocurrency makes me feel much safer.”
Another bitcoin user, who prefers to use his Twitter handle, Bit_gossip, told CoinDesk: “Every day there are new [bitcoin] exchanges coming up in Turkey.”
An escalating dispute with U.S. President Donald Trump over tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum and concerns about the health of the Turkish economy meant the Turkish lira lost a fifth of its value against the dollar last week, pushing it to record lows and down around 45% so far this year.
And the Turkish lira has continued to slide despite the country’s finance minister promising to implement a market-calming plan on Monday.
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said in a Sunday interview with local media outlet Hurriyet that Turkish institutions will take “necessary steps”, though Reuters reports few specifics were provided.
Albayrak’s comments come hours after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan railed against high interest rates and described the plunge in the country’s currency as a foreign “operation”.
Erdogan also called on Turkish citizens to exchange any dollars, euros or gold they own for the lira to prop it up, according to media reports.
Now Turkey risks a Venezuela-style move towards bitcoin and cryptocurrency if people lose faith in its currency.