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Garanti BBVA launches cryptocurrency wallet

garanti bbva crypto

Last year Turkish bank Garanti BBVA unveiled the launch of Garanti BBVA Digital Assets. It initially had a digital assets wallet running in beta mode, but this went live earlier this month. According to the bank, it is the first subsidiary of a Turkish bank to launch a self-developed cryptocurrency wallet. Earlier this year neobank Misyon partnered with Taurus for custody.

Garanti BBVA has 12 million digital and 11.6 million mobile customers, with digital customers making up the vast majority of the business. Clients can use the mobile app to ‘transfer and store’ Bitcoin, Ethereum and the USDC stablecoin.

“We will continue to grow by adding to our diversity of assets and our service infrastructure in the future,” said Çağrı Süze, BBVA Garanti EVP and Chairman of BBVA Digital Assets.

Turkish crypto legislation

In the holding company announcement, we noted the reference to ‘transfer and store’ rather than buy, sell and trade. However, the Turkish website explicitly includes trading.

While Turkey doesn’t yet have a lot of regulation around cryptocurrencies, there is a 2021 regulation that aims to prohibit the use of crypto-assets directly or indirectly for payments.

According to Norton Rose Fullbright it also prohibits:

  • the development of business models by banks, payment institutions and electronic money institutions that directly or indirectly use crypto assets; and
  • payment institutions and electronic money institutions from acting in intermediary activities for platforms providing for the purchase, sale, custody, transfer or offering of crypto assets.

That last point doesn’t appear to include banks.

In the meantime, a more comprehensive crypto-asset law was tabled in parliament last month. Overall it sounds broadly supportive of the asset class.

Considering the significant depreciation of the Turkish Lira, which is now worth less than a fifth of its value five years ago, the availability of cryptocurrencies or US dollar stablecoins could prove attractive for Turkish clients.

While bank support for cryptocurrencies is now fairly commonplace in some regions, BBVA was ahead of the curve. BBVA Switzerland launched digital asset services in 2021, which were not limited to accredited investors.

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