Bitcoin searches skyrocket in Turkey after crash of Lira, ouster of central bank director

When news spread that President Recep Erdoğan of Turkey had sacked the chief of the country’s central bank on March 19, 30-year old Tilbe Yardım immediately converted her Turkish lira into cryptocurrency.

The unexpected termination marked the third replacement of a central bank director by the President in mid-2019 and signaled currency and institutional volatility to investors.

“Turkish investors and people who understand finance are really furious and saddened about the news,” Coindesk quoted Yardım as saying.

Turkey central bank shake-up

Erdoğan, who is in favor of unorthodox monetary measures like reducing interest rates to contain inflation, allegedly sacked the central bank governor Naci Agbal after he raised interest rates.

Central bank instability has a tendency to attract people to digital assets. As the country’s lira plunged on Monday, online queries about cryptocurrencies and bitcoin climbed in Turkey, while searches for gold remained unchanged.

The latest data from Google Trends shows that numbers of queries for Bitcoin grew almost 500% shortly following news of the lira’s plunge. Turkey’s national currency fell from 0.14 to 0.12 versus the US dollar after the ouster of the central bank governor.

Turkish lira bouncing back

The Turkish lira recovered a fifth of its value against the USD since the start of the year alone. The currency’s recent 15% drop was sparked by jitters; the progress made by Agbal could be undone by the appointment of the new governor, Sahap Kavcıoglu, a politician and banker reportedly against the adoption of high-interest rates to curb inflation.

But the increase in crypto searches is the continuation of a much bigger narrative. Turkish interest in virtual tokens has been growing steadily in recent years.

It’s not just the people of Turkey who are taking a refreshed look at cryptocurrencies. At the start of the month, Turkey’s Ministry of Treasury disclosed it would collaborate with the central bank in relation to regulatory agencies in order to craft new policies with regards to the use of crypto.


Image courtesy of Alesia Kozik/Pexels

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