Turkey will begin piloting a previously undisclosed digital currency in the second half of 2021, the countryâ€™s chief central banker Naci AÄŸbal told members of parliament Friday.
Turkish-language media widely quoted him as follows:
â€œThere is an R&D project initiated on digital money. Currently the conceptual phase of this project has been completed. We aim to start pilot tests in the second half of 2021.â€
AÄŸbalâ€™s surprise comments place Turkey on the fast track to a central bank digital currency (CBDC). Turkey seldom discloses any digital currency ambitions; The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), known in monetary circles as the â€œbank for central banks,â€ does not even record Turkey as having an active CBDC project in its running database.
Yet Turkey is now angling to overtake many better-known CBDC projects. Although 80% of central banks are considering CBDC according to the BIS, only a handful â€“ Sweden, China, the Bahamas â€“ have progressed to pilot phase/soft launch.
The details of Turkeyâ€™s own CBDC project are murky at best. Local crypto outlet Koin BÃ¼lteni reported in September that the central bank was hiring experts for its digital currency research and development team.
Among the topics of apparent interest: blockchain, cryptography and big data.