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Following a Friday morning “diktat” from Turkey’s newly-appointed central bank governor, which essentially prohibited all cryptocurrency usage in the region, Bitcoin (BTC) now appears to be trapped in a partisan squabble, with a Turkish opposition party leader expressing support for the digital currency.
As previously noted, Turkey’s central bank announced on Friday that all cryptocurrency transfers and fiat-to-crypto onramp transfers would be illegal beginning April 30. Furthermore, “any direct or indirect utilisation of crypto assets in payment services and electronic money issuance” would be banned.
In reaction to the abrupt declaration, Turkish opposition party chief Kemal Klçdarolu sent a series of tweets in which he expressed his support for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general:
Tüm gün farklı paydaşlarla görüştüm. Blockchain ve kripto 1 milyar dolarlık (Unicorn) teşebbüslerimizin çıkacağı yegane alandır. Türkiye’nin
finansal teknoloji girişimlerine darbe vurdular. Gençlere tahammülleri yok bunların. Yok yok yok! https://t.co/lKGwm9Tt7q
— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) April 16, 2021
“To whom did you consult the crypto decision, O ruler?” he asked, presumably referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been referred to as an authoritarian and a dictator. “I will sit down and consult with all the stakeholders of this issue.”
He later said that after speaking with “stakeholders all day,” he concluded that cryptocurrency was the most possible field for Turkey to create “unicorn” companies worth more than $1 billion. He went on to say that the decision reflects the ruling party’s “lack of tolerance for young people.”
The ban would have a material effect on many Turks, in addition to its importance as a diplomatic talking point. According to a 2019 poll, Turkey is one of the top countries for blockchain adoption (though that study has come under heavy scrutiny). It has a stablecoin pegged to the lira that is listed on several exchanges, and a local exchange, BtcTurk, also sponsors football clubs.
However, the writing was on the wall for cryptocurrency in Turkey. Turkey blocked PayPal in 2016 in order to take ownership of the country’s payment system. Similarly, preparations for a government-run digital currency were underway in 2020, and possibly most ominously for Turkey’s rulers, BTC reached all-time lows against the lira earlier this year.
Turkish money has lost 70% plus of Its value in the last 6 years. 16% per year right now. #Bitcoin is Freedom
— Dennis Parker (@Xentagz) April 16, 2021