‘We are at War’ with crypto, says Turkish President Erdoğan

The Turkish government’s plans for cryptocurrencies draw a stark contrast to its central bank digital currency intentions

Turkey is eager to become a blockchain hub as a country with one leg in Europe and another in Asia. However, the same passion doesn’t apply to cryptocurrencies, as Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdoğan reiterated recently.

Erdoğan hosted a question-and-answer event in Mersin, Turkey with youth from across the country. An attendant referred to the Digital Turkish Lira Collaboration Platform announced last week and asked if the central bank would embrace cryptocurrencies. He also asked Erdoğan about his opinions on crypto.

“We have absolutely no intention of embracing cryptocurrencies,” answered the president, adding:

“On the contrary, we have a separate war, a separate fight against them. We would never lend support to [cryptocurrencies]. Because we will move forward with our own currency that has its own identity.”

Binali Yıldırım, Turkey’s former prime minister and Ak Party deputy chairperson, followed up by explaining that cryptocurrencies require strict supervision due to their potential risks. “It’s like a sale of a fictive future,” he said.

Turkey first announced plans for a national blockchain infrastructure in 2019. Since then, the government and the local authorities have taken a pro-blockchain stance. The government shared plans for a central bank digital currency (CBDC) with tests planned for late 2021.

The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey made a big step toward its CBDC goals by establishing the Digital Turkish Lira Collaboration Platform with three local technology companies.

However, President Erdoğan’s latest comments on cryptocurrencies mark a possible end for Turkey’s crypto-friendly era, in which several global crypto exchanges such as Binance and Huobi set up operations in the country.