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November 16, 2023

Turkey's Strategic Move Towards Crypto Regulation: Addressing Licensing and Taxation

Turkey, a rising star in the world of cryptocurrency, is taking significant steps to regulate its crypto market. The focus of these impending regulations is primarily on licensing and taxation. The ultimate goal is to remove Turkey from the "grey list" of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an organization that monitors and enforces anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures. Despite ranking fourth globally in crypto trading, Turkey's presence on this list has raised concerns.

Bora Erdamar and the Emphasis on Licensing Standards

At the forefront of these regulatory discussions is Bora Erdamar, a director at the BlockchainIST Center, a prominent blockchain technology research and development center. Erdamar highlights that the upcoming crypto regulations will give top priority to implementing specific licensing standards. The objective is clear: to prevent system abuse and ensure the responsible and secure growth of the crypto market in Turkey.

A Comprehensive Approach to Regulation

The proposed regulations are not limited to licensing alone. Erdamar suggests that they may encompass a range of factors, including:

  1. Capital Adequacy Standards: Ensuring that crypto entities maintain sufficient capital reserves to safeguard against market fluctuations and potential crises.
  2. Enhancements in Digital Security: Recognizing the critical need for robust cybersecurity measures in an increasingly digital financial landscape.
  3. Custody Services: Establishing guidelines for the secure storage of digital assets, a crucial aspect of crypto market infrastructure.
  4. Verification of Reserves: Implementing measures to validate and verify the reserves held by crypto service providers, enhancing transparency and accountability.

Addressing Concerns Raised by the FATF

Turkey's proactive approach to crypto regulation is partly driven by concerns highlighted by the FATF. In 2021, the FATF included Turkey in its "grey list" of nations susceptible to money laundering and other financial crimes. Turkey acknowledges these concerns and is committed to addressing them comprehensively.

Turkey's Crypto Market Standing

Despite the challenges posed by its inclusion in the "grey list," Turkey has emerged as a prominent player in the global crypto landscape. In terms of raw crypto transaction volumes, the nation ranked fourth globally, with approximately $170 billion in transactions over the last year. This places Turkey in the esteemed company of crypto giants such as the United States, India, and the United Kingdom. A report from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis underscores Turkey's growing influence in the crypto trading sphere.

The Urgency of Regulation

Mehmet Türkarslan, the legal director of Turkish cryptocurrency platform Paribu, emphasizes the urgency of swift cryptocurrency regulation. Türkarslan underscores the necessity for a comprehensive regulatory framework, including licensing for virtual asset service providers. Such a framework is vital not only to ensure the industry's compliance with global standards but also to expedite Turkey's removal from the FATF's "grey list."

Türkarslan states, "We, as the pioneer player of the cryptocurrency industry in Turkey, shared our expectations and the sector's necessities from the regulation with the authorized public institutions. We know it is crucial to be delisted from the grey list as soon as possible, so we expect a cryptocurrency regulation and a license for the virtual asset service providers with it."

Consequences of the "Grey List"

Countries placed on the FATF's "grey list" are identified as having insufficient safeguards to combat money laundering and other financial crimes. These nations are required to collaborate closely with the FATF to address and rectify these deficiencies. Failure to do so can have far-reaching consequences, impacting a country's investment ratings and global reputation.

An Impending Solution

In October, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek announced that Ankara would expedite the introduction of new legislation concerning crypto assets. This proactive move aims to fulfill the remaining FATF recommendations and, subsequently, expedite Turkey's removal from the "grey list." The implications of remaining on this list are significant, as they can adversely affect a country's investment climate and global standing.


Turkey's proactive stance on crypto regulation reflects its commitment to ensuring the integrity and security of its crypto market. As the nation contemplates new regulations, the crypto industry can anticipate a more structured and compliant framework. The potential removal of Turkey from the FATF's "grey list" not only enhances the nation's global standing but also solidifies its position as a key player in the ever-evolving world of cryptocurrency.

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