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Tales from the crypto: lira crisis fuels Bitcoin boom in Turkey

23 Jan 2022 By theguardian

Tales from the crypto: lira crisis fuels Bitcoin boom in Turkey

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AltCoin was founded to teach Turkish citizens about how to invest in cryptocurrencies, which provide a digital, decentralised alternative to the mainstream financial system.

Cryptocurrency trading has boomed in popularity in Turkey during a financial crisis that halved the value of the lira last year, while inflation recently surged above 30%, a two-decade high.

While most Turkish citizens looking to avoid the devaluation of their savings in lira tend to reinvest in dollars or gold, an increasing number of younger investors see cryptocurrencies as the way forward.

Yet whether cryptocurrencies genuinely provide an opportunity to get rich is unclear. Evangelists such as the AltCoin founders say that if the influx of unknowing investors risk falling prey to scams or simply wasting their money, it is the fault of the individual.

Shark declined to reveal how much money he has made through cryptocurrency investments, citing concerns that the government might suddenly swoop in and tax his gains.

Cryptocurrencies exist in a legal grey area in Turkey. The government banned their use to pay for goods and services in April last year, while trading them is still permitted.

The true size of the cryptocurrency market in Turkey is hard to estimate as many of the figures are produced by the industry itself. Bitcoin.com, a news site associated with the cryptocurrency, said in December that Turkey had surpassed a million trades a day.

An estimated 5 million people in Turkey currently operate cryptocurrency trading accounts, according to politicians seeking to regulate the trade.

Some fear undue regulation in an industry where freedom is prized. Others say that limited regulation is necessary to protect consumers from predatory exchanges.

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