General legal and regulatory frameworkLegal framework
What legal framework governs cryptoassets? Is there specific legislation governing cryptoassets and businesses transacting with cryptoassets?
There is no specific legislation in Turkey governing cryptoassets and business transactions involving cryptoassets, and there is still an ongoing debate regarding the legal definition of cryptoassets. Until the Turkish regulatory authorities agree on a specific legal definition of cryptoassets (eg, commodity, virtual money, currency), it will be difficult to establish a legal framework. For example, electronic money services and institutions are regulated by the Law on Payment and Securities Settlement Systems, Payment Services and Electronic Money Institutions (Law 6493); however, this law does not cover cryptoassets and business transacting with cryptoassets. The Banking Regulatory Supervision Authority (BRSA) stated this in Press Release 2013/32. However, according to an announcement by the undersecretary of treasury, a working group has been established to enhance a regulatory framework for cryptoassets.Government policy
How would you describe the government’s general approach to the regulation of cryptoassets in your jurisdiction?
Several statements from government officials have clearly established that the Turkish government will not get involved with the regulation of cryptocurrency. Nevertheless, the government is closely observing all aspects of cryptoassets in terms of their risks to consumers and possible tax regimes. The legal status of bitcoin and the government’s approach thereto has been the subject of several parliamentary questions in the Grand National Assembly. In response to one of these questions, the undersecretary of treasury stated that the government is following developments elsewhere on this issue and studies are being carried out regarding the advantages and risks of blockchain technology. According to the 11th Development Plan of Turkey, which was published in the Official Gazette on 23 July 2019, a blockchain-based digital central bank currency will be implemented. If the 11th Development Plan is realised, it will be possible to take concrete action to establish a regulatory framework for cryptoassets.Regulatory authorities
Which government authorities regulate cryptoassets and businesses transacting with cryptoassets?
Due to a gap in existing legislation, no specific government authority regulate cryptoassets and business transactions involving cryptoassets. In Press Release 2013/32 (25 November 2013) the BRSA declared that bitcoin does not qualify as electronic money under Law 6493 and thus will not be regulated under that law since it is not backed by a collateral or guarantee issued by an official or private entity. Similarly, on 1 December 2017 the Capital Markets Board of Turkey (CMB) issued a letter to the Capital Markets Association of Turkey (CMA) stating that cryptocurrencies are not regulated as derivative financial instruments within the framework of the Capital Markets Law (Law 6362). Therefore, under existing conditions, neither the BRSA nor the CMB are considered to be a competent regulatory authority for cryptoassets. On the other hand, the undersecretary of treasury has set up a working group consisting of different authorities such as the BRSA, the Central Bank of Republic of Turkey (TCB) and the CMB.Regulatory penalties
What penalties can regulators impose for violations relating to cryptoassets?
As cryptoassets are not specifically regulated under Turkish legislation, no violations related to cryptoassets are defined. Similarly, cryptoasset transactions are not supervised or monitored by any regulatory body; therefore, any violation or damage arising from a business transaction involving cryptoassets can be punished only under the general provisions of the related law. For example, the CMB reviewed a complaint regarding a cryptocurrency platform which had allegedly transferred cash obtained from sales of cryptocurrencies to its personal bank account, and determined that such violation fell within the scope of criminal liability under Articles 157 and 158 of the Criminal Code (5237), which regulate fraud and white collar crime.Court jurisdiction
Which courts have jurisdiction over disputes involving cryptoassets?
No particular court has jurisdiction over disputes involving cryptoassets. However, violations relating to cryptoassets mainly result in criminal or civil liability. Accordingly, the criminal courts have jurisdiction if a crime involving cryptoasset is committed (eg, fraud, theft or white collar crime) and individuals who suffer damages due to a business transaction involving cryptoassets have the right to seek damages in the civil courts.Legal status of cryptocurrency
Is it legal to own or possess cryptocurrency, use cryptocurrency in commercial transactions and exchange cryptocurrency for local fiat currency in your jurisdiction?
The Turkish legislative framework includes no specific provisions prohibiting individuals from owning or possessing cryptocurrency. In fact, various cryptocurrency exchange platforms operate in the Turkish fintech ecosystem, offering cryptocurrency trading and exchange services. In addition to cryptocurrency exchange platforms, other businesses such as real estate and informatics companies accept cryptoassets as a payment method. However, none of these businesses are licensed under the BRSA, the CMB or any other Turkish regulatory authority; therefore, individuals who transact with cryptoassets in their businesses must bear their own risk.Fiat currencies
What fiat currencies are commonly used in your jurisdiction?
The Turkish lira is the only fiat currency backed by the TCB and used in Turkey. However, both the 11th Development Plan and the Turkish presidency’s 2020 Annual Programme include the project to develop a blockchain-based digital currency backed by the TCB. If the development plan is realised as planned, this cryptocurrency will be an alternative digital fiat currency accepted in Turkey and under international trading systems.Industry associations
What are the leading industry associations addressing legal and policy issues relating to cryptoassets?
The leading industry association is the Blockchain Turkey Platform, which was established as an initiative of the Turkish Informatics Foundation in October 2018. The aim of the Blockchain Turkey Platform is to build a sustainable blockchain ecosystem in Turkey and to secure Turkey’s leading position on blockchain in the region. In order to expand the use of blockchain technology and establish a bridge between regulators, public institutions and legislators, the Blockchain Turkey Platform organises training programmes, issues publications and takes part in collaborative efforts such as meeting with regulators and exchanging of ideas with legislators. Numerous working groups have been established under the Blockchain Turkey Platform; in particular, the law, regulations and government relations working group was established to carry out studies related to blockchain system including cryptoassets and inform legislators and regulators in this area. The Ministry of Trade and the Blockchain Turkey Platform have signed a cooperation agreement and a representative of the ministry attends the working group meetings.
Cryptoassets for investment and financingRegulatory threshold
What attributes do the regulators consider in determining whether a cryptoasset is subject to regulation under the laws in your jurisdiction?
The regulatory authorities consider several criteria defined in the legislation to assess whether a cryptoasset is subject to regulation. At present, none of the regulatory bodies have declared that cryptoassets fully fall under the scope of the regulatory framework.
In Press Release 2013/32 the Banking Regulatory Supervision Authority (BRSA) clearly stated that cryptoassets do not constitute electronic money and therefore do not fall under the scope of the Law on Payment and Securities Settlement Systems, Payment Services and Electronic Money Institutions (Law 6493). Thus, the BRSA has no authority to supervise business transacted with cryptoassets under Law 6493. On review of the definition of ‘electronic money’ in Law 6493, it is obvious that a monetary value can be qualified as electronic money only in cases where the monetary value is:
- issued on the receipt of funds by an electronic money issuer;
- stored electronically;
- used to carry out payment transactions defined in Law 6493; and
- accepted as a payment instrument by natural and legal persons.
Therefore, the BRSA does not consider cryptoassets to be electronic money.
Second, the Capital Markets Board of Turkey (CMB), in its letter issued to the Capital Markets Association of Turkey on 1 December 2017, stated that cryptocurrencies are not regulated as a derivative financial instrument within the scope of the Capital Markets Law (Law 6362); therefore, Turkish investment institutions must not engage in any spot or derivatives transactions based on cryptocurrencies. According to Law 6362, capital market instruments include:
- derivative instruments; and
- other capital market instruments designated by the CMB, including investment contracts.
The CMB does not qualify cryptoassets as derivative instruments, but the following are considered to be securities under Law 6362:
- shares, other securities similar to shares and depositary receipts related to these shares;
- debt instruments or debt instruments based on securitised assets and revenues; and
- depository receipts related to these securities.
However, the CMB does not consider these criteria in order to assess cryptoassets as a security. It is likely to assess cryptoassets under capital market instruments by considering criteria included in the definition of capital market instruments: ‘other capital market instruments designated in this context by the CMB’. In such case, the taxation of business transactions involving cryptoassets will also be considered.Investor classification
How are investors in cryptoassets classified and treated differently?
Turkish law does not classify cryptoasset investors.Initial coin offerings
What rules and restrictions govern the conduct of, and investment in, initial coin offerings (ICOs)?
Since Turkish law does not define cryptoassets nor set out a framework for cryptoasset regulation, the legal status of ICOs and the restrictions regarding investment in ICOs are unclear. In Resolution 47/1102 (27 September 2019) the CMB stated that ICOs mostly fall outside the scope of its supervision. The CMB also reiterated that ICOs may have similar aspects to public coin offerings or crowdfunding activities depending on their nature, and in that case ICOs may fall under the supervision of the CMB. The CMB has also issued the Communiqué on Equity Crowdfunding (III-35/A.1), which regulates fundraising from the public through equity by excluding other similar crowdfunding activities such as ICOs and security token offerings.Security token offerings
What rules and restrictions govern the conduct of, and investment in, security token offerings (STOs)?
According to Law 6362, ‘security’ means:
- shares, securities similar to shares and the depositary receipts related to these shares;
- debt instruments or debt instruments based on securitised assets and revenues; and
- depository receipts related to these securities.
Since securities give their owner the right to partnership, and are purchased and sold for investment purposes, security tokens can qualify as securities under Law 6362. However, the CMB has not yet classified or assessed STOs.
In terms of equity token offerings which can be assessed as STOs, there will be some restrictions. According to the Turkish Commercial Code (6102) (TCC), non-public joint stock companies are not required to issue share certificates and shareholding rights arise on registration of a joint stock company. In that case, equity token offerings can be realised as shareholder rights based on a token rather than a share certificate. However, in case of share transfers in a non-public joint stock company, equity token offerings cannot meet the requirements of the TCC as the transfer of shares without an issued certificate requires written agreement on share transfer, and it is uncertain how the parties will fulfil the requirement to execute a written agreement as described in the TCC. In addition, even if a non-public joint stock company issues share certificates, endorsement and a possession transfer are required in order to transfer the shares. Thus, equity token offerings cannot meet requirements since they enable investors to obtain shares through the blockchain network. For public joint stock companies, a similar result will be obtained. Even if a written agreement is not required for share transfers in public joint stock companies, these transactions are carried out under the supervision of the Central Registry Agency according to Law 6362.
What rules and restrictions govern the issue of, and investment in, stablecoins?
No specific rules and restrictions govern transactions with stablecoins in Turkey. However since stablecoins commit to providing a certain amount of reserve to their investors, this commitment will have legal consequences in line with the general provisions of both civil and criminal law. Therefore, stablecoin issuers must conduct their businesses in line with the principle of good faith.Airdrops
Are cryptoassets distributed by airdrop treated differently than other types of offering mechanisms?
No specific classification for cryptoassets distributed by airdrop exists. As for other types of offering mechanism, the legal status of cryptoassets distributed by airdrop is unclear.Advertising and marketing
What laws and regulations govern the advertising and marketing of cryptoassets used for investment and financing?
As the legal status of cryptoassets is not yet clear, the advertising and marketing of cryptoassets used for investment and financing is not subject to specific regulation or restriction. However, in cases where certain types of cryptoasset can be considered to be securities, individuals and institutions which conduct advertising and marketing activities for cryptoasset investment will be subject to the restrictions set out in the Regulation on Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices issued by the Ministry of Trade, as well as the Communiqué on Investment Services and Investment Institutions.Trading restrictions
Are investors in an ICO/STO/stablecoin subject to any restrictions on their trading after the initial offering?
As ICO/STO/stablecoin offerings and trading are not currently subject to regulation, no restrictions apply to these investors. In cases where the CMB determines that an offering and its trading qualifies as the issuance of securities, investors will be bound to the requirements and restrictions set out under Law 6362 as well as the Communiqué on Sales of Capital Market Instruments (II-5.2).Crowdfunding
How are crowdfunding and cryptoasset offerings treated differently under the law?
Crowdfunding and cryptoasset offerings are treated differently by the CMB. The CMB has issued the Communiqué on Equity Crowdfunding (III-35/A.1), which entered into force on 3 October 2019 and regulates fundraising from the public through equity. However, the CMB has not yet regulated cryptoasset offerings. However, according to the definition of ‘capital market instruments’ in Law 6362, the CMB has the authority to determine and regulate all other new capital market instruments.Transfer agents and share registrars
What laws and regulations govern cryptoasset transfer agents and share registrars?
No explicit regulation governs cryptoasset transfer agents and share registrars. However, according to Article 37 of Law 6362, several investment services (eg, the reception and transmission of orders in relation to capital market instruments) must be conducted through a CMB-authorised intermediary. In cases where cryptoassets are qualified as a capital market instruments, institutions which receive or transmit a cryptoasset order will be required to obtain authorisation from the CMB in line with the Communiqué on Principles Regarding Investment Services, Activities and Ancillary Services (III-37.1).
Anti-money laundering and know-your-customer compliance
What anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) requirements and guidelines apply to the offering of cryptoassets?
No specific AML and KYC requirements or regulatory guidelines apply specifically to the offering of cryptoassets in Turkey. However, numerous cryptocurrency trading and exchange platforms actively provide services to customers through cooperation with banks in the Turkish market. In practice, these trading and exchange platforms may voluntarily undertake to comply with AML/KYC requirements as best practice. Accordingly, some of the cryptoasset businesses in the Turkish market appoint compliance officers, establish KYC procedures or prepare documentation in this regard.Sanctions and Financial Action Task Force compliance
What laws and regulations apply in the context of cryptoassets to enforce government sanctions, anti-terrorism financing principles, and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards?
No specific laws and regulations are applicable in the context of cryptoassets, but in Report T-001-3.47 (20 November 2014) the Financial Crimes Investigation Board of Turkey (MASAK) defined money transfer transactions for the purpose of purchasing bitcoin as suspicious activity. However, the report referred only to bitcoin and did not cover other cryptoassets such as ethereum. In its latest Suspicious Transaction Reporting Guideline (11 September 2019), MASAK amended the definition of a ‘suspicious transaction’ regarding cryptocurrency transactions and declared that transfers made for the purpose of purchasing cryptocurrency will be deemed to be suspicious in case of:
- carrying out money transfers to national and international cryptocurrency exchanges or to real persons’ or legal entities’ accounts in an amount and frequency contrary to the customer’s profile; and
- incoming transfers to clients’ accounts from an unknown source or suspected to result from a cryptocurrency sale that is incompatible with the receiving party’s financial profile.
Under these circumstances, banks or other obliged financial institutions must inform MASAK of suspicious activities.
Further, the FATF adopted an interpretive note to Recommendation 15 on New Technologies, clarifying the FATF’s previous amendments to the international standards on virtual assets. FATF described how countries and regulated entities must comply with the relevant FATF recommendations to prevent the misuse of virtual assets for money laundering and terrorist financing. As a member of FATF since 24 September 1991, Turkey must adopt these recommendations and has until June 2020 to take prompt action in the context of virtual asset activities in line with the FATF recommendation.
Cryptoasset tradingFiat currency transactions
What rules and restrictions govern the exchange of fiat currency and cryptoassets?
No explicit rules and restrictions govern the exchange of fiat currency with cryptoassets. Cryptocurrency exchange and trading platforms usually determine their own exchange policy according to supply and demand equilibrium or other cryptoasset exchange markets with which they are partnered.Exchanges and secondary markets
Where are investors allowed to trade cryptoassets? How are exchanges, alternative trading systems and secondary markets for cryptoassets regulated?
There is no regulatory framework determining specific marketplaces in which investors are allowed to trade. Numerous cryptoasset businesses currently operate in Turkey without obtaining a licence or permission from a Turkish regulatory authority. The existing legislative framework neither prohibits investors from trading cryptoassets nor provides a clear regulatory base for such trading transactions and systems. On the other hand, some financial regulatory authorities, such as the Capital Markets Board of Turkey (CMB) and the Banking Regulatory Supervision Authority (BRSA) have warned investors that cryptoasset trading is not yet regulated, thus they may incur serious risk.
How are cryptoasset custodians regulated?
There are no specific laws and regulation for cryptoasset custodians. In Turkey, custodian services are mainly regulated by the CMB and the BRSA. According to the Capital Markets Law (Law 6362), custody services refer to:
the services related to capital market instruments deposited or delivered in dematerialised or physical form in relation to capital market activities, whether due to capital market activities or as custodian or in order to manage or as a guarantee or regardless of the name.
Since cryptoassets are not deemed to be capital market instruments by the CMB, it is unclear whether cryptoasset custodians can be regulated under Law 6362. If cryptoassets are ever considered as a security or other capital market instrument under that law, businesses which offer custody services for cryptoassets may be subject to licensing requirements in the same way as other authorised institutions which hold securities.Broker-dealers
How are cryptoasset broker-dealers regulated?
No specific regulations apply to cryptoasset broker-dealers. In Turkey, all intermediary institutions must be authorised by the CMB in order to be able to provide investment services. The licensing requirement is limited to various types of service such as securities trading, public offerings and derivatives trading. However, cryptoasset brokerage institutions cannot be considered as an intermediary service which must be authorised by the CMB as cryptoassets are not qualified as capital market instruments by the CMB yet.Decentralised exchanges
What is the legal status of decentralised cryptoasset exchanges?
The legal status of decentralised cryptoasset exchanges is not defined in Turkey since no specific laws and regulations govern cryptoasset exchanges. On the other hand, various cryptocurrency exchange platforms are established in Turkey to provide decentralised cryptoasset exchange servicesPeer-to-peer exchanges
What is the legal status of peer-to-peer (person-to-person) transfers of cryptoassets?
No specific regulation determines the legal status of peer-to-peer cryptoasset transfers.Trading with anonymous parties
Does the law permit trading cryptoassets with anonymous parties?
The existing regulatory framework includes no specific regulation for cryptoasset trading with anonymous parties.Foreign exchanges
Are foreign cryptocurrency exchanges subject to your jurisdiction’s laws and regulations governing cryptoasset exchanges?
No – since no specific laws and regulations govern cryptoasset exchanges in Turkey, foreign cryptocurrency exchanges are not subject to specific regulation for cryptoasset exchanges.
Under what circumstances may a citizen of your jurisdiction lawfully exchange cryptoassets on a foreign exchange?
No specific laws apply to Turkish citizens who wish to exchange cryptoassets on a foreign exchange as cryptoassets are not legally recognised. Although several cryptocurrency platforms provide foreign exchange services to their customers, these businesses are not recognised by any Turkish regulatory body. Decree 32 on the Protection of Value of Turkish Currency regulates restrictions on payments made with foreign currency with the aim of the protection of value of Turkish lira. The following cannot be denominated in foreign currency or be indexed to foreign currency, except in circumstances determined by the Ministry of Treasury and Finance:
- agreement/contract prices and any other payment obligation arising from sale and purchase agreements/contracts for movable and immovable assets;
- lease/rent agreements for any movable and immovable assets, including vehicles and financial leasing; and
- employment; service; and construction agreements, executed by and between persons residing in Turkey,
Accordingly, depending on where the exchange of cryptoassets takes place and where the parties to the exchange reside, the foreign currency ban or exceptions arising from Decree 32 may apply.Taxes
Do any tax liabilities arise in the exchange of cryptoassets (for both other cryptoassets and fiat currencies)?
No specific tax regulations apply to the exchange of cryptoassets. According to the Income Tax Law (Law 193), the income of individuals is subject to income tax. The following types of income are subject to income tax:
- commercial income;
- agricultural earnings;
- self-employment earnings;
- real estate capital income;
- securities capital income; and
- other earnings and revenue.
The gains derived from cryptocurrency do not fall into any of these categories. If cryptoassets were to be qualified as a commodity in Turkey, the income derived from the exchange of cryptoassets would be subject to income tax as commercial income (depending on the volume and continuity of the exchange). In addition, in line with the Corporate Income Tax Law (Law 5520), any corporate income (eg, income derived from cryptocurrency) is subject to taxation.
As there is no specific legal definition of cryptoassets in Turkey, there is uncertainty as to whether cryptoassets meet Turkish taxation requirements. Under the Value Added Tax Law (Law 3065) the exchange of cryptoassets is likely exempt from the scope of that law since the exchange of cryptoassets cannot be included in the type of transactions listed in Article 1 of Law 3065. However, if an intermediary service is provided for the exchange of cryptoassets, this business will be subject to Law 3065.
Cryptoassets used for paymentsGovernment-recognised assets
Has the government recognised any cryptoassets as a lawful form of payment or issued its own cryptoassets?
The government has not yet recognised any cryptoasset as a lawful form of payment. However, according to the 11th Development Plan of Turkey, which was published in the Official Gazette on 23 July 2019, as well as the Turkish presidency’s 2020 Annual Programme, the Central Bank of Republic of Turkey is currently working to issue a blockchain-based national digital currency. Accordingly, the design and software development stages of the instant payment system will be completed and testing will take place.Bitcoin
Does Bitcoin have any special status among cryptoassets?
Although bitcoin has more public recognition than other cryptoassets, it has no legal status in Turkey. On 25 November 2013, the Banking Regulatory Supervision Authority (BRSA) published Press Release 2013/32 on bitcoin, in which it defined bitcoin as ‘a virtual currency which is not issued by any public authority or private institution and its consideration is not assured’. Accordingly, the BRSA concluded that bitcoin does not qualify as electronic money.Banks and other financial institutions
Do any banks or other financial institutions allow cryptocurrency accounts?
At present, no public or private Turkish banks allow cryptocurrency accounts; however, cryptoasset exchange or trading platforms which provide bank payment options open corporate accounts for their services. These accounts are not specific to cryptocurrencies and allow the exchange or trading platform only to accept or make payments through their bank accounts. However, one Turkish investment bank recently invested in a cryptocurrency exchange platform for the purpose of providing a secure cryptocurrency exchange and storage service. Banks are monitoring these cryptoasset services with interest and are testing out experimental technologies since customer demand for cryptoassets is on the increase.
Cryptocurrency miningLegal status
What is the legal status of cryptocurrency mining activities?
No specific regulations restrict or allow cryptocurrency mining activities in Turkey. However, as mining activities require a huge amount of electrical energy, such activity may be subject to restriction regarding excessive energy use.Government views
What views have been expressed by government officials regarding cryptocurrency mining?
Government officials are closely following recent developments on cryptoassets and cryptocurrency-related services and the topic has been the subject of various parliamentary questions. The Capital Markets Board of Turkey and the Ministry of Finance are conducting studies in order to determine a regulatory framework for cryptoassets.Cryptocurrency mining licences
Are any licences required to engage in cryptocurrency mining?
No licence is required to engage in cryptocurrency mining since as yet, no regulation applies to this area.Taxes
How is the acquisition of cryptocurrency by cryptocurrency mining taxed?
No specific laws and regulations govern the taxation of income derived from acquisition of cryptocurrency by cryptocurrency mining activities and there are no Tax Administration rulings or court decisions on taxation in relation to the income generated by the acquisition of cryptocurrency by cryptocurrency mining However, cryptocurrency mining activities are likely be considered as commercial activity since miners are paid in exchange for verifying blocks and transactions on the blockchain network. Therefore, if the cryptocurrency obtained by way of cryptocurrency mining is qualified as income, the income gained from cryptocurrency mining activities may be considered to generate commercial income depending on the volume and continuity under the Income Tax Law (Law 193). In terms of value added tax (VAT), since cryptocurrency mining and the acquisition of cryptocurrency may only be carried out online, the applicability of VAT to cryptocurrency mining services depends on the condition for the delivery of such service in Turkey. The Law on Digital Services Tax and Amending Various Laws and the Statutory Decree (Law 7194) was promulgated in the Official Gazette on 7 December 2019. Effective three months after publication of the law, the revenue generated from the provision of the digital services defined under Law 7194 offered in Turkey will be subject to a digital services tax of 7.5%. If cryptocurrency mining is considered to be digital services within the scope of Law 7194, the revenue generated by the acquisition of cryptocurrency by cryptocurrency mining may be subject to the digital services tax.
Blockchain and other distributed ledger technologiesNode licensing
Are any licences required to operate a blockchain/DLT node?
Blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies are not legally recognised in Turkey. Therefore, no licensing requirements apply.Restrictions on node operations
Is the operation of a blockchain/DLT node subject to any restrictions?
No restrictions are imposed on the operation of a blockchain/DLT node subject within the Turkish anti-money laundering/know-your-customer framework. The Personal Data Protection Law (Law 6698) and its secondary legislation may be considered an applicable regulation, since nodes simply facilitate the operation of blockchain networks and include personal data such as transaction data. In such circumstances, a node will be considered as a personal data processor or controller depending on the nature of the case. Therefore, nodes must comply with the requirements of Law 6698.DAO liabilities
What legal liabilities do the participants in a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) have?
Turkish law specifies no legal liability for participants in a DAO.DAO assets
Who owns the assets of a DAO?
No regulation governs ownership of DAO assets. Therefore, any party which purchases a DAO token is considered to be the owner of the DAO.Open source
Is DLT based on open-source protocols or software treated differently under the law than private DLT?
As no regulation governs DLT, DLT based on open-source protocols or software and private DLTs all operate under their own conditions.Smart contracts
Are smart contracts legally enforceable?
Smart contracts are not legally recognised under Turkish law. However, in line with the principle of freedom of contract, parties are free to enter into a contract and determine its content unless it is contrary to the law, morality, public order, personal rights and freedoms. Under Turkish jurisdiction, various smart contract applications apply in different sectors (eg, transportation and insurance). At present, these applications are subject to general contract liability provisions. Therefore, without separate legislation to regulate smart contracts, their enforceability may be challenged on the grounds that they restrict parties’ negotiation power over the terms and conditions of an agreement. In addition, smart contracts are not legally enforceable for the formal contracts specified by certain laws (eg, real estate contracts, vehicle sales agreement).
Can blockchain/DLT technology be patented?
According to Article 82 of the Industrial Property Law (Law 6769), a patent can be granted to an invention in any field of technology providing that it has novelty, involves an inventive step and has industrial application. Therefore, blockchain or DLT itself cannot be patented as a technology. However blockchain-based or blockchain-related systems and technologies may be patented if they fulfil the conditions set out in Law 6769. In addition, Law 6769 sets out some exceptions to patentability: subjects or activities such as computer programs, business activities and the presentation of the information cannot be considered as inventions.
Update and trendsRecent developments
Are there any emerging trends, notable rulings or hot topics related to cryptoassets or blockchain in your jurisdiction?
As the regulatory framework does not explicitly restrict or prohibit individuals from carrying out business transactions involving cryptoassets, the Turkish cryptocurrency market has grown rapidly. According to research conducted by a private banking company in Turkey, one in five people own cryptoassets. The Industry and Technology Road Map for 2023, which was announced by the Industry and Technology Ministry on 18 September 2019, includes significant detail in terms of blockchain and DLT technology. Accordingly, the government plans to establish the National Blockchain Infrastructure to utilise DLT in public administration. The government has also set out its plans to develop a regulatory sandbox for blockchain applications. In addition, the Istanbul Clearing, Settlement and Custody Bank, known as Takasbank, has announced a physically backed blockchain-based platform that enables users to transfer physical gold stored electronically at the Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange.
Although there are no specific laws and regulations for cryptoassets and blockchain/DLT technology in Turkey, the government and institutions are closely watching blockchain technology in order to implement these new technologies into public institutions and practices.
Law stated dateCorrect on
Give the date on which the above content is accurate.
17 December 2019.