Whether it is worrying about the security of your job or an ever-growing selection of investment opportunities around the world, you may have willingly or unwillingly had more exposure to the crypto market, pushing you to explore the world of cryptocurrencies.

Although traditionally, the incline in Turkey would be toward investing in precious metals such as gold, the devaluation of the Turkish lira and other emerging currencies and the economic volatility during the pandemic has pushed many to seek digital reserve assets.

Lack of government surveillance on digital money has also translated into a booming cryptocurrency market. The Turkish Central Bank set to introduce its digital cryptocurrency, the digital Turkish lira, in the second half of 2021.

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Most Trusted Exchanges in Turkey

There are about 40 big or small exchanges in Turkey. But when it comes to cryptocurrencies, 2 names shine the most: BtcTurk and Binance. Their daily transaction and trading volumes reach billions of dollars, and they are the most trusted exchanges in Turkey.

61% of Turkish users prefer Binance to buy and trade crypto coins with the Turkish lira, closely followed by BtcTurk with 54%.

  • Binance

Binance is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, with users from over 180 countries and regions. Launched in 2019, the Turkish arm of the giant Binance TR allowed traders to purchase cryptocurrency with the local currency, ie. Turkish lira. It is a fiat-to-crypto and crypto-to-crypto exchange for users in Turkey.

Like Coinbase, Binance is another major player in the crypto world and offers its users an impressive range of reputable crypto coins. Its high liquidity, and multi-language support make it popular.

  • BtcTurk

On a more local level, there is BtcTurk. It is Turkey's largest crypto exchange, with over 1 million active users trading on the platform. It has grown so much that it is now also a sponsor of the Turkish men's and women's national teams for next year's UEFA European Championship.

This exchange allows the user to make cryptocurrency deposits and withdrawals free of charge, which is the main reason behind its popularity.

However, out of the two, Binance is more user-friendly and hence more preferred. Binance offers the simplest way to buy, sell and store cryptocurrency in Turkey.

Setting up a Cryptocurrency Account on Binance

  • Signing up

On the top right-hand corner of the home page, you will see the option to open an account (hesap oluştur).

After typing in your email address and creating a password, the platform will ask to verify your email via a 6-digit code.

You will then have to log in to your account for the first time and be asked to read and consent to the terms of use.

From here, you should activate the two-step verification (2FA) to ensure the security of your account, either via Google or SMS.

  • How to verify your identity

Binance TR authentication (Know Your Customer - KYC) is one of the security procedures cryptocurrency platforms put in place to protect both the user and the exchange itself. You must complete this before starting trading and after creating an account. You can verify your ID either on your phone or the Binance TR website. You will see the option for 2-level authentication and changing your limits in the Profile tab.

  • Level 1

For Level 1 authentication, you will be asked to enter your full legal name, address, ID number, and birthdate. You can deposit money into your account and withdrawal Turkish lira, but you won't be able to withdraw cryptocurrency unless you complete Level 2 authentication too.

  • Level 2

For Level 2 authentication, you will be asked to scan a QR code and continue on your mobile phone. You will then have to upload a picture of both the front and back of your ID card or driver's license and then take a selfie.

  • How to fund your account

Under the wallet tab, you will find options to make deposits and transfers. Bank transfer is the most preferred. And although Binance is no longer able to send or receive Turkish lira through the online payment providers of Papara and Initial, you can do so via the state banks of Ziraat Bank or Vakıfbank.

There is no minimum requirement for the amount of money you want to transfer, but the bank account you will transfer must be in your name. If the name on the bank account and your Binance account do not match, they'll reject the funds.

BtcTurk has agreements with 6 of the largest Turkish banks, including Yapı Kredi and Deniz Bank, which the platform's users can use to deposit or withdraw their investments.

  • Select coins for trading

You will have the option to choose from various crypto coins, including significant currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin to XRP, TRX, Binance coin, and Litecoin.

Is Cryptocurrency Regulated in Turkey?

Yes and no.

Experts attribute the rapid growth of the crypto market in Turkey to the country not yet having a comprehensive regulatory framework. That means crypto trading is not legal or illegal as it has no detailed definition prescribed in law.

There are also no specific definitions for taxing cryptocurrencies, and gains from crypto exchanges are not counted as taxable income for individuals, as per current regulations. However, this is not the case for businesses. Turkish exchange's currently don't need licenses.

This lack of regulation has pushed more people to engage in trades but not in consumer transactions.

However, Turkey recently cracked down on this field and introduced legislation to ban cryptocurrencies' digital money to pay for goods and services. It said the decision was to prevent "irrevocable" damage and eliminate "significant" transaction risks.

As of May, companies were also barred from handling payments and electronic fund transfers involving cryptocurrencies. However, investments are still not deemed illegal.

Is Cryptocurrency (Buying, Selling, Exchanging, Etc.) Safe in Turkey?

There are many measures to ensure the security of your account in the cryptocurrency world: two-factor authentication, PIN codes for withdrawal, and anti-phishing codes.

However, nothing in life comes without risk, but you can control most of this.

When trading:

  • It would be best if you secured your wallet. You will need encrypted, regular, and multiple backups of your wallet in ideally more than one secure location.
  • Transactions can only be refunded by the receiver and are not reversible.
  • You will not be anonymous when trading, which spells trouble for privacy. With Bitcoin, anyone can see the balance and transactions of a Bitcoin address.
  • Unconfirmed transactions are not secure, and it may take time for your transaction to go through.
  • Crypto coins are not official currencies and may be subject to tax, depending on your region.

Hacks have involved users who stored their crypto coins on exchanges instead of using their wallets. Hence, using cold storage or an offline wallet could safeguard your funds that are not being actively traded.

Whether you are trading Bitcoin or lesser-known "altcoins" or alternatives to significant cryptocurrencies, you are always at risk of losing money. These currencies are experimental and hence can suffer from unpredictable highs and lows, making them very volatile.

With a lack of oversight comes more susceptibility to fraud, and hence Turkey is expected to tighten regulations in digital trades further. It would be best to always do your due diligence before entrusting your funds to any exchange, whether crypto or not.