Trading volume on Turkey's cryptocurrency exchanges surged Friday as the country's fiat currency plunged to record lows on economic jitters.
According to CoinMarketCap, volume at Turkish exchanges Paribu, Btcturk and Koinim jumped over the past 24 hours by more than 100 percent each. Absolute volumes are still relatively small at these exchanges, with Btcturk, the country's largest, handling $11.6 million in trades.
The Turkish lira hit an all-time low against the dollar, reflecting global market worries about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's economic policies, his souring relationship with U.S. president Donald Trump and his government's ability to repay its debts.
Doing little to calm such fears, Erdogan spoke in public appearances Friday of "economic war" with the U.S. and called on Turkish citizens to exchange any dollars, euros or gold they own for the lira to prop it up, according to media reports.
The ongoing turmoil has increased the appeal of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for some local retail investors, even though the sector has been in a bear market this year.
"Every day there are new [bitcoin] exchanges coming up in Turkey," said a local university student who for safety reasons asked to be referred to by his Twitter handle, Bit_gossip.
Another crypto user, an affiliate marketing professional in Istanbul who also prefers to go by a pseudonym, Bitmov, said he has been using bitcoin to buy digital ads abroad for over three years. Now his family and friends turn to him for advice on how to buy bitcoin, he said.
Bitmov told CoinDesk:"I started personally trading crypto 1.5 years ago because of the weakness of the Turkish lira, and fear of the political, and financial, status of the Turkish government. Cryptocurrency makes me feel much safer."
Pointing to hardships caused by recent economic policies, Bitmov said he no longer trusts fiat currencies.
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