Binance has launched a direct channel integration with a Turkish bank, providing clients with a gateway enabling seamless transfers between fiat currencies and digital assets.
Binance said Monday its new integration with Istanbul-based Akbank, its first-ever direct link with a bank, will allow users to seamlessly deposit Turkish lira into their exchange accounts and instantly withdraw value back out again. Turkish citizens with an Akbank bank account can use the direct channel as of today.
Founded in 1948, Akbank is one of the largest banks in Turkey. More than 12,000 employees serve 18 million customers in approximately 770 branches across the country. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said the new Akbank integration would make their services as accessible as possible in a country “fast-adopting digital assets.”
Turkey has proven to be fertile ground for cryptocurrencies. The lira’s volatility and an uncertain political-economic outlook have pushed many of the country’s citizens to engage with digital assets. In August 2018, trading volumes on Turkish exchanges doubled as the lira plunged to record lows and the country’s president publicly called for an “economic war” with the U.S.
Even during the depths of crypto winter, exchange efforts to expand Turkish operations were met with roaring success. OKEx’s head of operations told CoinDesk in May 2019 the exchange had onboarded more than 30,000 local users since it expanded its services to the country at the end of March.
Binance has already gained a foothold in the region, placing advertisements for staff in its new office in Istanbul just before Christmas. In November, the exchange launched its first crypto gateway with the lira. At the time, Binance’s strategy director Gin Chao said Turkey was one of the countries the exchange was most interested in expanding its services to.
Binance isn’t the first cryptocurrency exchange to have an integration with mainstream banks. Coinbase struck up a relationship with U.K. bank Barclays in March 2018, helping simplify withdrawals and deposits in pound sterling. Just over a year later, Barclays ended the partnership just over a year later. The bank declined to comment on why it did so.