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Turkish Citizens Seek Refuge in Gold and Stablecoins Amid Surging 67% Inflation Rate

Turkish Citizens Seek Refuge in Gold and Stablecoins Amid Surging 67% Inflation RateAccording to February 2024’s latest inflation data, Turkey faces an inflation rate exceeding 67%, amid ongoing currency devaluation and a declining lira against the U.S. dollar. Recent findings suggest that in an effort to safeguard their wealth, Turks are increasingly turning to gold, with smuggling hitting unprecedented levels. Additionally, there is a growing interest among […]

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ZK community aligned with the core Web3 mission: ZkDay Istanbul roundup

The ZkDay Istanbul event offered exposure and networking opportunities to new and upcoming ZK-based projects and entrepreneurs.

As zero-knowledge (ZK) technology marches its way toward solving mainstream use cases, the community backing the disruptive tech continues to grow stronger. Over 1,200 ZK developers, community members and enthusiasts, including Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, attended the latest zkDay Istanbul event. 

ZK meetups attract 1,500 to 4,000 attendees, and zkDay Istanbul — as a platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration — witnessed a significant increase in enthusiasm as well. The event was built on top of the success of zkDay Paris, which attracted early-stage ZK startups and market leaders.

ZK-focused projects from various stages built connections and interacted with top members of zkDay sponsor projects, such as Manta Network, co-hosted by Polyhedra Network and =nil; Foundation. Kenny Li, the chief operating officer and co-founder of the Manta Network, spoke to Cointelegraph about zkDay. He said:

“The interest and attendance for zkDay is a testament to the community’s interest in the space, and we are excited to see that interest continuing to grow from country to country.”

Additionally, zkDay Istanbul ran alongside Devconnect 2023, an event dedicated to Ethereum community, builders and researchers.

Manta Network co-founder Kenny Li (left) and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin (right) at zkDay Istanbul 2023. Source: Cointelegraph

The zkDay Pitch competition saw participation from numerous high-quality projects, many of which have previously topped competitive events such as ETHGlobal. Li anticipates future collaborations with zkDay Pitch sponsor ETHGlobal to provide greater exposure to promising upcoming projects.

Abner Jia, the CEO of Polyhedra Network, echoed Li’s optimism about the ZK community’s growth, highlighting the surge in interest in ZK technology:

“With more projects and enthusiasts joining the ZK ecosystem, it’s clear that the community is on a strong growth trajectory.”

Improving user experience remains a common goal across the ZK community as projects strive to onboard users into the next-generation consumer products. Li added:

“That’s why we are so focused on our universal circuits at Manta Pacific, where we can offer ZK-as-a-service so developers can hit the ground running, launching EVM [Ethereum Virtual Machine]-compatible decentralized applications that leverage ZK without having to figure out the cryptographic elements.”

Attendees of zkDay Istanbul highlighted the ZK community’s strong convergence to the core mission of developers, users and community in Web3 in general. Despite the surface-level differences in focus areas and priorities, such as privacy, scalability and real-world applications, the fundamental ethos of decentralization and innovation remains consistent between the two communities.

The year-over-year growth in the ZK dev community suggests that the future of ZK technology holds incredible promise. Jia believes that collaboration remains key for the ZK ecosystem to thrive. “We are all striving for a fair, decentralized future. Leveraging zk is just another step to get there!,” added Li. 

Speaking about the future of ZK, Jia also revealed Polyhedra’s newly deployed distributed proof system on zkBridge, named deVirgo. “We are open for collaborations. Entrepreneurs looking to make a mark in this space should closely watch our progress and implementations. It’s essential to keep up with the latest developments in zk technology, as it’s a rapidly evolving field,” he concluded.

The budding ZK community is exploring use cases that can be directly applied to drive next-generation consumer products using intuitive EVM-compatible decentralized applications.

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Turkey mulls addressing licensing and taxation in new crypto rule

Bora Erdamar from the BlockchainIST Center emphasized that upcoming crypto regulations prioritize specific licensing standards to prevent system abuse.

Turkey is reportedly considering regulations for its crypto market, focusing on licensing and taxation. The aim is to remove the country from the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), as Turkey ranks fourth globally in crypto trading.

According to a Reuters report, Bora Erdamar, a director at the BlockchainIST Center — a blockchain technology research and development center — said the upcoming crypto regulations will prioritize implementing specific licensing standards to prevent system abuse. Erdamar added that the regulations may encompass factors such as capital adequacy standards, enhancements in digital security, custody services and verification of reserves.

Turkey also aims to respond to issues highlighted by the Paris-based FATF, which, in 2021, included the country in its “gry list” of nations susceptible to money laundering and other financial crimes.

Turkey ranked fourth globally in raw crypto transaction volumes, at approximately $170 billion over the last year, behind the United States, India and the United Kingdom, according to a report from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Mehmet Türkarslan, legal director of Turkish cryptocurrency platform Paribu, emphasized the importance of swift cryptocurrency regulation. He expressed the necessity for a regulatory framework, including licensing for virtual asset service providers, to ensure the industry’s compliance and prompt removal from the grey list.

He said:

“We, as the pioneer player of the cryptocurrency industry in Turkey, shared our expectations and the sector’s necessities from the regulation with the authorized public institutions. We know it is crucial to be delisted from the grey list as soon as possible, so we expect a cryptocurrency regulation and a license for the virtual asset service providers with it.”

Related: Turkish lira becomes top crypto trading pair on Binance in Sept. 2023

Countries on the grey list are identified as having insufficient safeguards to combat money laundering and other financial crimes. They are required to collaborate with FATF to address and rectify these deficiencies.

In October, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek announced that Ankara would expedite introducing new legislation for crypto assets to fulfill the remaining FATF recommendation, aiming to remove Turkey from the grey list. This status can impact a country’s investment ratings and reputation.

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No CZ, no problem: Binance Blockchain Week showcases Turkish crypto industry

Binance picked the Bosphorus as the backdrop for Binance Blockchain Week, the flagship event in its 2023 calendar.

Binance Blockchain Week Istanbul 2023 saw global crypto exchange Binance bringing its flagship event to Turkey on Nov. 8–9, where business is conducted in the Turkish lira — a top trading pair on its platform. 

While Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao was absent from the event, the Binance c-suite, along with key executives from a full roster of event sponsors, was more than enough to turn Binance Blockchain Week into one of the most packed Web3 events Istanbul has ever seen.

As a city bridging Europe to Asia, Istanbul is no stranger to international crypto and blockchain summits. While most events pick the heart of the city for easy access and nearby hotels, Binance picked a venue on the coastline of the Bosphorus — away from the subway and many other transportation methods — to show its visitors Istanbul’s true beauty.

The event occurred on the European side of Istanbul, but visitors could step outside the terrace and enjoy the view of the Asian part, the Bosphorus and the bridge connecting the two continents. Source: Cointelegraph

It’s usually not a problem to visit the main event area without a registration or to get a last-minute ticket at the entrance — at least for most events in Turkey. But, for Binance Blockchain Week, the security was tight and tickets were sold out. Binance’s event team designed a two-floor layout for over 2,000 attendees from all around the world.

Visitors were welcomed by a spacious hall that led to the upper floor, where the main stage and booths were installed. The entry floor offered various activities, including a small hair salon where visitors opted in to get the Binance logo sprayed on their hair, two old-school arcade machines and the startup-focused Innovation Stage.

There’s no better way to show Binance affection than spraying its logo on one’s hair. Source: Cointelegraph

The importance of the Istanbul event was evident from Binance’s perspective, as the crypto platform kept the big announcement of its Web3 wallet — not to be confused with the Binance-owned Trust Wallet — for this event. 

Binance’s head of regional markets, Richard Teng, kicked off the event by introducing the Binance Web3 Wallet to 150 million Binance users.

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Starting on a high note, Binance Blockchain Week Istanbul provided keynotes and panels from prominent names of blockchain, crypto, Web3, gaming and entertainment gathered in Istanbul for two days. There were panels to attend or networking opportunities for people from all backgrounds and experience levels.

Binance chief marketing officer Rachel Conlan told Cointelegraph that the exchange considered several cities before picking Istanbul as the destination for this year’s Binance Blockchain Week. 

“The city has an incredibly vibrant crypto community, and the strong support we’ve continually received from this local community played a decisive role in our decision.”

Referencing surveys that placed Turkey among the countries with the highest crypto adoption, Conlan noted that this engagement and adoption “reaffirms our long-term commitment to investing in and nurturing the blockchain ecosystem in Turkey, making Istanbul a natural choice for our flagship event.”

The flagship event was missing Binance’s CEO, who is known to adopt a decentralized culture within Binance and even suggested that he might be willing to step down as CEO.

“Effective decentralization means not only the distribution of authority and responsibility but also visibility,” Conlan said.

Binance wants to constantly engage users and ensure consistent presence across multiple forums and regions, and having an experienced team to independently represent the company is crucial to that goal, she added.

Binance and the larger Web3 ecosystem

Even though it was a Binance event, the conference included several other firms and platforms. Tron, Chiliz, Animoca Brands, Zignaly, Alchemy Pay and Trust Wallet were among the booths installed in the sponsor area.

“Binance Blockchain Week has always been about more than just Binance; it’s about building community,” Conlan explained, adding that by fostering collaborations with partners, Binance aims to extend its reach to the larger Web3 ecosystem.

Who needs a bell to announce that panels are starting when there’s an ear-splitting drum on hand? Source: Cointelegraph

Event participants were also happy with the vivid and dynamic atmosphere they encountered in Istanbul. “We are surprised by the energy and enthusiasm of the Turkey crypto community at Binance Blockchain Week,” said David Uhryniak, Tron’s head of ecosystem development, adding that the most exciting aspects of the event were the stablecoin panel and “the amazing venue next to the Bosphorus.”

More praise for Istanbul’s charm and hospitality came from Abdul Rafay Gadit, the co-founder of the crypto trading platform Zignaly. Commenting on Binance Blockchain Week, Gadit told Cointelegraph, “The event in Istanbul was a success with diverse crypto projects showcasing their long-term efforts, especially given the long bear run.”

One highlight of the event was engaging directly with developers building Web3 for the next billion users, according to BNB Chain’s head of business development, Tomasz Wojewoda. “It was fantastic to meet so many developers that are building in the BNB Chain ecosystem and hear firsthand about how they are benefiting from opBNB’s low gas fees and BNB Greenfield’s decentralized storage,” he said.

Bilal Bin Saqib, a blockchain entrepreneur who featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia, told Cointelegraph that he was fascinated by the discussion on the future of blockchain. “I think the launch of Binance’s first self-custody Web3 wallet was the highlight for me,” Saqib said, noting that the launch opens “countless avenues to the future of Web3 for the masses.”

As for Conlon, the “Women in Web3” session on the Innovation Stage was a substantial highlight of the whole event. “The discussion delved into the perspectives of several industry-leading women, covering the intersection of female power and the future of technology,” Conlan said.

Turkey as a hotbed of Web3 innovation

The sponsor area was next to the terrace, where the food and beverages were served. Despite the overwhelming crowd, a rich selection of food was always available. Aside from the main dishes, visitors were lining up to taste local delicacies such as simit (a kind of Turkish bagel), Maras-style ice cream and Turkish coffee.

Visitors from different countries get together in the food line, at the sponsor booths, and over a coffee to talk about Web3, blockchain and crypto within the context of Turkey’s role in the industry while cherishing long-awaited bullish price action in the crypto market.

Maras-style ice cream made from goat’s milk. Source: Cointelegraph

Highlighting that Turkey has grown to become a significant player in the blockchain space, Binance Turkey general manager Mücahit Dönmez told Cointelegraph that the open collaboration between traditional financial institutions like Turkish banks and crypto platforms shows the forward-thinking approach of the country. “This collaborative business environment stimulates an innovation-friendly atmosphere and is good for the blockchain and crypto sector,” he added.

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The declining local economy will contribute to the accelerating crypto adoption in Turkey, according to Bin Saqib. “With the Turkish Lira not showing any significant signs of recovery, I think more and more people will enter the crypto ecosystem in hopes of saving their hard-earned money,” he said.

Cointelegraph couldn’t break the high score in the arcade version of Space Invaders. Source: Cointelegraph

After two days of sessions, Zhao closed out the event via video call, highlighting the crypto exchange’s efforts in compliance and how Binance is helping lawmakers create regulatory frameworks for digital currencies. 

Fielding questions from the audience, the Binance CEO said that the crypto industry is moving toward decentralized finance (DeFi), adding:

“I would like to spend more of my time in DeFi, wallets, etc. I think that’s where the real technology innovation is.”

Binance Blockchain Week Istanbul 2023 allowed the Turkish crypto and blockchain ecosystem to boost its visibility through Binance’s global brand. 

Bin Saqib said, “Binance has shed light on Turkey’s crypto ecosystem — something not a lot of people knew about, and this will attract other projects, investors and crypto natives to the country as well.”

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Turkish Lira becomes top crypto trading pair on Binance in Sept 2023

Turkish Lira accounted for 75% of all fiat volume in early September, which can be tied to the recent influx of crypto investors in the Turkish market.

The Turkish Lira (TRY) became the most dominant fiat trading pair on Binance in the month of September, according to the crypto exchange’s research.

Turkish Lira accounted for 75% of all fiat volume in early September despite being the fourth-largest crypto market globally in terms of transaction volume after the United States, India and the United Kingdom, respectively.

The TRY trading pair boom can be tied to the recent influx of crypto investors in the Turkish market. 27% of the participants in Binance’s research started their journeys as crypto investors within the last year, out of which 8% joined in the last six months.

Time in market for Binance users in Turkey. Source: Binance

Most respondents hold up to $175 (5,000 TRY) in cryptocurrencies and prefer investing heavily in real estate. As shown below, the profitability factor is one of the biggest reasons for Turkey’s interest in crypto. Ease of monitoring, no minimum threshold and low transaction costs remain some of the notable drivers for new investors. The inherent risks associated with crypto contribute to the reluctance of many Turkish investors.

Turkey' s motivations for investing in crypto. Source: Binance

Over the last three years, crypto adoption in Turkey increased from 16% to 40%, and the country is ranked 12th on Chainalysis’ Global Crypto Adoption Index 2023. Turkey also received humanitarian aid in crypto during the 2023 earthquake.

Related: Binance launches Web3 wallet for its 150M registered users

While crypto adoption in Turkey shows no signs of slowing, the nation is reportedly drafting fresh regulations to govern crypto assets in its efforts to convince the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to remove it from its “gray list.”

Back when the FATF placed Turkey on its gray list in 2021, Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek had clarified that Turkey adhered to all but one of the 40 standards set by the watchdog — that was related to dealing with cryptocurrencies.

Simsek cited plans to propose a crypto assets law to parliament to exit the gray list but did not specify the legal changes.

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Turkey aims to shed FATF gray list status with new crypto regulations

Finance Minister Simsek reportedly stated that the sole outstanding technical compliance matter is crypto assets.

Turkey is reportedly drafting fresh regulations to govern crypto-assets in an effort to convince the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international organization responsible for combating financial crimes, to remove it from a “gray list” of nations that have not done enough to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

Notably, the FATF placed Turkey on its gray list in 2021. According to a report, during a discussion with a parliamentary commission on Oct. 31, Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek mentioned that a FATF report determined that Turkey adhered to all but one of the 40 standards set by the watchdog.

Finance Minister Simsek reportedly stated that the sole outstanding matter for technical compliance is related to crypto assets. He cited plans to propose a crypto-assets law to parliament, aiming to exit the gray list, pending any political factors. No specifics on the legal changes were provided.

The FATF, established by the G7 advanced economies to safeguard the international financial system, cautioned Turkey in 2019 about significant deficiencies. These included the necessity to enhance procedures for freezing assets associated with terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Related: Bitcoin price hits all-time highs across Argentina, Nigeria and Turkey

Nevertheless, the Turkish Presidential Annual Program for 2024, released on Oct. 25 in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey, sets the objective of completing cryptocurrency regulations in the country by the end of 2024. Article 400.5, found within the comprehensive 500-page document, outlines the intended efforts to establish clear definitions for crypto assets, potentially subject to taxation in the future.

The document also intends to legally define crypto asset providers like cryptocurrency exchanges. However, it does not provide further specifics on the upcoming regulatory framework. By December 2022, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey had successfully conducted the initial trial of its digital currency, the digital lira. It has expressed intentions to pursue further testing into 2024.

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Turkey plans to craft crypto framework in 2024

Crypto asset providers, such as crypto exchanges, will also be given a legal definition.

The 2024 Turkish Presidential Annual Program, published on Oct. 25 in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey, aims to finalize crypto regulations in the country within the calendar year of 2024. 

Article 400.5 of the almost 500-page document reveals the planned studies to define crypto assets, which might be taxed appropriately afterward. Crypto asset providers, such as crypto exchanges, will also be given a legal definition. However, the document contains no other details on the future regulations.

In September 2023, the former CEO of Turkish crypto exchange Thodex, Faruk Fatih Özer, was sentenced to 11,196 years in prison by a Turkish court. Thodex, which was one of the largest trading platforms in the country, abruptly imploded in 2021.

Related: Bitcoin price hits all-time highs across Argentina, Nigeria and Turkey

According to a 2022 study, Turkey was the second nation in the world in terms of crypto-related search requests, with 5.5% of the population making them. The country saw an elevenfold rise in crypto use in 2021 amid the ongoing inflation crisis of the local fiat currency, the Turkish lira.

In December 2022, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey completed the first trial of its central bank digital currency, the digital lira, and has signaled plans to continue testing throughout 2024. And while the government has still made no commitment to the ultimate digitalization of the country’s currency, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly supported the digital lira project.

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Court Hands 11,196-Year Prison Sentence to CEO of Exchange That Collapsed With $2,000,000,000+ in Crypto: Report

Court Hands 11,196-Year Prison Sentence to CEO of Exchange That Collapsed With ,000,000,000+ in Crypto: Report

The chief executive of a collapsed crypto exchange has reportedly been handed a staggering prison sentence of over 11,000 years. According to a new report by Euronews, Faruk Özer, the CEO of Istanbul-based crypto exchange Thodex, has been given 11,196 years in jail for stealing $2 billion worth of crypto assets from customers. Thodex suddenly […]

The post Court Hands 11,196-Year Prison Sentence to CEO of Exchange That Collapsed With $2,000,000,000+ in Crypto: Report appeared first on The Daily Hodl.

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Turkish crypto exchange Thodex CEO gets 11,000-year sentence for $2B scam: Report

The Thodex founder fled the country in 2021 only to be detained in Albania in August 2022 and extradited to Türkiye in April 2023.

The former CEO of Turkish crypto exchange Thodex, Faruk Fatih Özer, was sentenced to 11,196 years in prison by a Turkish court on charges of “establishing, managing and being a member of an organization,” “qualified fraud,” and “laundering of property values.”

The Anatolian 9th High Criminal Court sentenced Özer along with his two siblings to the same jail sentence of 11,196 years, 10 months and 15 days in prison along with a $5-million fine, reported Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu Agency.

The Turkish crypto exchange was one of the largest digital asset trading platforms in the country before it abruptly imploded in 2021. The exchange halted services on the platform without prior notice, and the founder, Özer, fled the country along with users’ assets totaling $2 billion in crypto. At the time, Özer had refuted all claims of a possible exit scam.

The fugitive founder was finally detained in Albania in August 2022, where he was serving a jail sentence, before he was extradited to Türkiye in April 2023 on charges of fraud and money laundering. Özer was already in jail for failure to submit tax documents since July, while the most recent conviction comes for defrauding customers.

Related: Individual behind $3.4B Silk Road Bitcoin theft sentenced to one year in prison

The founder of the crypto exchange claimed in court that he and his family are facing injustice. He said Thodex was just a crypto company that went bankrupt and had no criminal intentions. A Google-translated version of Özer’s court statement read:

“I am smart enough to manage all institutions in the world. This is evident from the company I founded at the age of 22. If I were to establish a criminal organization, I would not act so amateurishly. What is in question is it is clear that the suspects in the file have been victims for more than 2 years.”

The long-drawn-out case against the Thodex crypto exchange had 21 defendants, five of whom attended the court hearing in person. The court acquitted 16 defendants of “qualified fraud” due to lack of evidence and ordered the release of four defendants. The other defendants in the case received varying degrees of sentences based on their involvement in the fraud.

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More Than Half of All Adults in High-Inflation Turkey Are Crypto Investors: KuCoin Study

More Than Half of All Adults in High-Inflation Turkey Are Crypto Investors: KuCoin Study

A new study from the crypto exchange KuCoin suggests that over half of all adults in the country of Turkey own digital assets. KuCoin says that in the last 18 months, crypto investing has increased from 40% to 52% in Turkey, with a rising trend in female participation. “While male investors still dominate at a […]

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