Turkish Tribal War Against Bitcoin

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, “We are in a war against cryptocurrencies,” on September 18, 2021. Merriam-Webster defines war as “a state or period of fighting between countries or groups.” I am guessing that the war Erdoğan mentions here is a war between Erdoğan’s tribe and Bitcoin, as the citizens of the country are embracing bitcoin more than ever. On January 15, 2021, the number of people investing in the Turkish Stock Market went past 2 million for the first time. By April 24, 2021, there were more than 5 million users registered to the two biggest Turkish bitcoin exchanges. One would wonder how a 12-year-old technology manages to attract more people than the Istanbul Stock Exchange that has been active since 1985 with the full support of government institutes. The answer lies in the Turkish lira and the reputation of the central banking system of Turkey.

The Turkish Central Bank is identified as an independent bank. Unfortunately, the bank’s independence is very questionable. Turkish President Erdoğan appears to be acting as a chairman in disguise for the bank. The central bank had a total of 21 chairs between 1931 and 2019. This gives the chairs an average time of 4.2 years per person. Murat Uysal was appointed as the chair in July 2019. Uysal was sacked from duty in November 2020 and Naci Ağbal was appointed instead of him. Ağbal held his position until March 2021 and that position was filled by Şahap Kavcıoğlu. In the last 26 months, the bank had three different chairmen.