Cryptocurrencies have become increasingly popular in Turkey with an estimated 20% of the population now investing in some form of digital currency. (Image courtesy: Michael Wuensch via Pixabay).

The Turkish government plans to launch a central bank “blockchain based” digital currency within the next four years.

The idea was included in The Eleventh Development Plan submitted to parliament by Turkish vice president, Fuat Oktay on 8 July. The document, presented to the Planning and Budget Commission, will serve as an economic road map for the government between now and 2023. 

According to cryptocurrency news publication, Coindesk, the development plan states that “blockchain-based digital central bank money will be implemented”.

Other measures include using blockchain technology for transport and customs purposes and harnessing artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things along with blockchain to improve public services.

Flagging economy

The government also plans to launch a Regulatory Experiment Area, an Association of Payment Services and Electronic Money Institutions, and the Istanbul Finance and Technology Base in efforts to revive the country’s flagging economy.

The value of lira has plummeted over the past year with inflation soaring to 20%. At the beginning of July, President Erdogan fired the central bank chief after disagreements over interest rate hikes causing the lira to sink further.

The idea of a national cryptocurrency isn’t new. In 2018 some Turkish officials called for the launch of a state-controlled and regulated national bitcoin called ‘Turkcoin’. Turkey’s former industry minister and deputy chair of the government’s coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Ahmet Kenan Tanrikulu, said: “The world is advancing toward a new digital system. Turkey should create its own digital system and currency before it’s too late,” news site Al-Monitor reported. 

Not everyone is keen on the idea. Ministers from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) previously likened cryptocurrencies to pyramid schemes and branded them “un-Islamic”.

However, cryptocurrencies have become increasingly popular in Turkey over recent years with an estimated 20% of the population now investing in some form of digital currency. The country now has the “highest per capita rate of cryptocurrency ownership of all nations surveyed,” Cointelegraph reported, citing research by Statista.

A version of this article first appeared on our sister publication Global Government Forum


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