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Turkish central bank taps local tech firms for digital currency R&D

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The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) has made a major step forward with a research and development project that could see the Turkish lira go digital.

On Sept. 15, CBRT announced the signing of memoranda of understanding with three domestic research and technology companies that will form the “Digital Turkish Lira Collaboration Platform.” The pool of participants is expected to expand as the project moves forward.

The three original technology stakeholders are Aselsan, a major defense corporation, Havelsan, a software and systems developer operating in defense and IT sectors, and TÜBİTAK Informatics and Information Security Research Center.

Project participants will aid CBRT in developing and testing the prototype digital lira network. While the announcement does not clarify the technological infrastructure underlying the project, it mentions the possibility that it will embrace “blockchain technology, the use of distributed ledgers in payment systems, and integration with instant payment systems” on a later stage.

Related: ECB is looking to design a digital euro more energy-efficient than Bitcoin

Similar to the digital euro initiative, the digital lira project doesn’t make a commitment to the ultimate digitization of Turkey’s currency, as the document emphasizes that “The CBRT has made no final decision regarding the issuance of the digital Turkish lira.”

The results of the tests are expected sometime in 2022, after which CBRT will decide whether the technology meets the standards required for further implementation.

Earlier in the summer, the Turkish central bank banned cryptocurrency payments and limited the range of financial services available to crypto businesses. The bill designed to establish regulatory clarity around digital assets still awaits a parliamentary vote.

   

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