Turkey’s chief central banker Naci Ağbal told members of parliament Friday that the central bank will begin the pilot project of a previously undisclosed national digital currency in the second half of 2021. Ağbal’s 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, 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.
Turkey joins several other countries in the CBDC race.
Turkey is now angling to overtake many CBDC projects. Although 80% of central banks are considering national digital currencies according to the BIS, only a handful – Sweden, China, the Bahamas – has progressed to the pilot phase/soft launch. The details of Turkey’s own CBDC project have not been made public yet. In September, local crypto outlet Koin Bülteni reported that the central bank was hiring experts for its digital currency research and development team. Major economies like Japan, the US, and several European countries are also considering the CBDC option.
China is all to launch its national digital currency.
The digital yuan tests have been widely successful across the country so far. Over $300 million were transacted last month, and a test last week—a “tap” payments feature that mimicked cash payments—saw a record $3 million in transactions over the weekend. The former PBoC governor Zhou Xiaochuan noted that “Some countries are worried about the internationalization of yuan. We can’t push them on sensitive issues, and we can’t impose our will. We must avoid the perception of great-power chauvinism,” he added. Since the last five to six years, the People’s Bank of China has been working on its national digital currency.