Turkey will begin piloting a previously undisclosed digital currency in the second half of 2021, the country’s chief central banker, Naci Ağbal, told members of parliament Friday.
“There 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.”
Ağbal’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 “bank for central banks,” 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 – Sweden, China, the Bahamas – have progressed to pilot phase/soft launch.
The details of Turkey’s own CBDC project are murky at best. Local crypto outlet Koin Bülteni reported in September 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.