One of Turkey’s oldest cryptocurrency exchanges, BtcTurk, may soon be snapped up by Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the U.S. by trading volume.
BtcTurk is one of the most valuable crypto exchanges in the country, boasting 4.5 million users.
Coinbase is on a spree to open in every jurisdiction where cryptocurrency is legal, the company has said in the past. In March, Coinbase opened discussions for an acquisition of the $2.1 billion company 2TM, the parent company of Brazil’s largest crypto exchange, Mercado Bitcoin.
However, Coinbase is not expected to sign a deal until later this month for BtcTurk, according to sources interviewed by Bloomberg. The company was still performing due diligence checks after signing a term sheet. It’s possible part of the deal might involve a “share swap,” Bloomberg reported.
It’s no surprise why Coinbase is eager to capture more of the Turkish market. The depreciating Turkish lira has galvanized millions of Turkish citizens to invest in cryptocurrencies during the pandemic. Last year, Turkey recorded more than a million cryptocurrency trades a day, and billboards and ads for crypto are ubiquitous across the country. “In the past it was dollarization, meaning in order to avoid fluctuations in their currency people kept their assets in dollars,” Turan Sert, an adviser for Paribu, Turkey’s biggest online crypto exchange, told Al Jazeera. “Now the recent trend is being called cryptolization.”
Turks are also heavily invested in the metaverse, with citizens spending millions on virtual land in the virtual reality space.
Despite this, Turkish politicians have shied away from fully embracing cryptomania. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan previously said Turkey had “absolutely no intention of embracing cryptocurrencies.” Instead, he said, Turkey preferred to “move forward with our own currency that has its own identity.”
Last April, Turkey’s central bank also instituted a ban on using crypto for traditional goods and services, citing the “irreparable” damage associated with high risks in transactions. “Their use in payments may cause non-recoverable losses for the parties to the transactions… and include elements that may undermine the confidence in methods and instruments used currently in payments,” the central bank said.
Last April, Thodex and Vebitcoin — two prominent Turkish cryptocurrency exchanges — also collapsed, wiping out the assets of hundreds of thousands of users.
Despite this uncertain regulatory environment, other crypto juggernauts like Binance, OKX, and Bybit have also waded into Turkey’s crypto industry, eager to capitalize on the surging interest in crypto. However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Last December, Binance faced an 8 million lira ($751,314) fine for numerous violations.