Volumes Surge on Turkey's Crypto Exchanges as Lira Tanks
Trading volume on Turkey's cryptocurrency exchanges surged Friday as the country's fiat currency plunged to record lows on economic jitters.
According to CoinMarketCap, volume at Turkish exchanges Paribu, Btcturk and Koinim jumped over the past 24 hours by more than 100 percent each. Absolute volumes are still relatively small at these exchanges, with Btcturk, the country's largest, handling $11.6 million in trades.
The Turkish lira hit an all-time low against the dollar, reflecting global market worries about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's economic policies, his souring relationship with U.S. president Donald Trump and his government's ability to repay its debts.
Doing little to calm such fears, Erdogan spoke in public appearances Friday of "economic war" with the U.S. and called on Turkish citizens to
exchange any dollars, euros or gold they own for the lira to prop it up, according to media reports.
The ongoing turmoil has increased the appeal of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for some local retail investors, even though the sector has been in a bear market this year.
"Every day there are new [bitcoin] exchanges coming up in Turkey," said a local university student who for safety reasons asked to be referred to by his Twitter handle, Bit_gossip.
crypto user, an affiliate marketing professional in Istanbul who also prefers to go by a pseudonym, Bitmov, said he has been using bitcoin to buy digital ads abroad for over three years. Now his family and friends turn to him for advice on how to buy bitcoin, he said.
"I started personally
trading crypto 1.5 years ago because of the weakness of the Turkish lira, and fear of the political, and financial, status of the Turkish government. Cryptocurrency makes me feel much safer."
Pointing to hardships caused by recent economic policies, Bitmov said he no longer trusts fiat currencies.
Similarly, Bunyamin Yavuz, a cardiologist in Ankara, said he no longer trusts local banks and now buys XRP, monero, lumens, among other cryptocurrencies as part of his investment portfolio. Yavuz told CoinDesk his holdings now consist of 30 percent cryptocurrencies, 20 percent U.S. dollars, and just 10 percent lira.
Reflecting the growing interest, Bit_gossip has run a crypto Discord channel since 2016 that has recently grown to 11,294 Turkish-speaking members. Bitcoin purchases would be even brisker right now were it not for fear of volatility and scams, he said, explaining:
"Most Turkish crypto traders (hodlers actually) started in late 2017, or the first quarter of 2018, and they got rekt."