Nayib Bukele ambassador of Bitcoin in Erdogan’s Turkey
Nayib Bukele ambassador of Bitcoin in Erdogan’s Turkey
World News

Nayib Bukele ambassador of Bitcoin in Erdogan’s Turkey

By Eleonora Spagnolo - 20 Jan 2022

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President of El Salvador Nayib Bukele will be visiting Turkey today where he will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Although the visit has purposes of cooperation between the two countries, according to some, the two leaders might also talk about Bitcoin.

Nayib Bukele in Erdogan’s Turkey

The visit was announced in recent days by the president of El Salvador via Twitter, and confirmed by the president of Turkey, also via Twitter. 

An official press release explains that the meeting is designed to strengthen opportunities for cooperation and investment. It is a continuation of an operation already launched in 2021 that saw the Turkish cooperation agency facilitate online training for 35 El Salvador doctors and health workers in the fight against Covid-19.

The theme of the meetings in Turkey will also be the possibility for Erdogan’s country to invest in the energy and tourism sectors in Central America. 

The visit confirms the commitment of President Bukele in seeking to improve diplomatic relations with other countries, for the good of Salvadorans.

These are the official statements. 

The president of Turkey Erdogan

Bitcoin, Turkey and El Salvador: two opposing worlds

The president of El Salvador could also become an “ambassador” of Bitcoin for Turkey. But the two countries are worlds apart. On the one hand, El Salvador has made Bitcoin legal tender; on the other, Turkey has banned cryptocurrencies for payments (but allows trading). 

At a time when the Turkish lira is undergoing severe devaluation and Turks are taking refuge in cryptocurrencies, Erdogan may see El Salvador as an example to follow rather than a model to fight. But there is a substantial difference between the two economic models. Erdogan is fighting to revive the Turkish currency, and this probably includes the cryptocurrency law announced some time ago.

Nayib Bukele, when he introduced the Ley Bitcoin, had no local currency to defend since the Salvadoran currency disappeared from circulation years ago. Before 7 September in El Salvador, the only currency circulating was the US dollar. 

In short, El Salvador’s approach to cryptocurrencies is diametrically opposed to Turkey because the economic context is different. 

The success of cryptocurrencies in Turkey and El Salvador

Sure enough, however, the two countries have in common a massive spread of cryptocurrencies. 

In El Salvador after the introduction of the Ley Bitcoin and the Chivo wallet (also aided by a $30 bonus in Bitcoin), there are 4 million users who have downloaded the app, out of a population of 6.5 million.

These are real users, because the app provides the KYC procedure. 

In Turkey, on the other hand, cryptocurrencies are increasingly popular, particularly Bitcoin and Tether. The government is not countering their spread but banning their use as a means of payment. The result is that Turks are converting the lira with Bitcoin to hope for a profit or with Tether to avoid volatility. Offices have also sprung up where they can make these transactions and thus reach even those less accustomed to the crypto world. 

It might be that, taking into account these data, Nayib Bukele will be able to convince his counterpart Erdogan to review the approach with cryptocurrencies in a more open and non-restrictive sense. 

Eleonora Spagnolo

Journalist passionate about the web and the digital world. She graduated with honours in Multimedia Publishing at the University La Sapienza in Rome and completed a master's degree in Web and Social Media Marketing.

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