Just off of Istiklal street, Istanbul’s busiest pedestrian walkway, the occasional passerby stops to glance at a screen displaying the prices of cryptocurrencies in the window at NakitCoins.
Only a handful of people enter the shop, but the brick-and-mortar exchange, which lets them buy or sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is a physical example of how the ailing Turkish lira is propelling the popularity of virtual cryptocurrencies in Turkey, despite a recent history of scandalised exchanges.
Interest in crypto among Turks, like the rest of the world, has increased over the years. But Turkey’s economic crisis has pushed millions of curious observers to actually sink their savings into Bitcoin, Ethereum and other coins. The new converts aren’t simply drawn to the investment promise of cryptocurrencies, which are prone to wild, volatile price swings. They see virtual currencies as a potential store of value to shield their savings as the lira is roiled by routs that saw the Turkish currency lose more than 40 percent of its value last year alone.
The growing appetite for crypto is the latest manifestation of the Turkish public’s search for reliable investments, said Cem Yilmaz, who founded NakitCoins in 2018 and has now opened three branches in the country.
Turkish people are very interested in investing, it could be forex [foreign exchange], or gold, or now crypto,” he said.
Yilmaz launched NakitCoins to help the crypto-curious overcome their apprehensions about sinking their money into a new virtual investment vehicle via exchanges that only exist in the ether.