Turkish investors pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars in profits trading bitcoin last year, a year marked by an influx of institutional dollars that spurred the cryptocurrency market’s flagship coin to new all-time highs.
Turkish traders collectively made over $300 million (TL 2.58 million) in realized bitcoin gains in 2020, according to estimates from Chainalysis. The New York-based research firm published a report ranking the top 25 countries with the biggest realized gains.
U.S. investors topped the worldwide list as they locked in over $4 billion in profits trading the most popular cryptocurrency, three times more than the next highest country, China, the data showed.
“Investors in nearly all countries saw the biggest increases toward the end of the year,” researchers at Chainalysis wrote. “That’s when U.S. investors really broke away from the pack, with most of their gains coming from activity on Coinbase.”
China came in second on the list, with $1.1 billion in profits, followed by Japan with $900 million, the U.K. with around $800 million, Russia with $600 million and Germany also with approximately $600 million.
Smaller emerging-market countries, such as Vietnam and the Czech Republic were also among the top 25 with gains of $351 million and $281 million, respectively. Turkey ranked 14th on the list.
Some followed the opposite pattern, with India being the best example.
With more than a billion citizens, India is the world’s second-most populous country and has the fifth-largest economy with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.9 trillion.
However, the country ranked a surprisingly low 18th in bitcoin investment gains at $241 million.
“This may be a result of the Indian government’s historical unfriendliness to cryptocurrency,” wrote Chainalysis researchers.
The research firm said its estimates are derived from tracking transaction data from crypto services, though the decentralized nature of the technology makes it impossible to know where the parties of any individual deal are located.
Cryptocurrencies remain little-used for global commerce even as they become increasingly mainstream assets, although companies including Tesla Inc. and big-name investors such as Paul Tudor Jones endorse it.
Cryptocurrency trading volumes often spike during periods of volatility, with short-term traders seeking to profit from swings in price. Many market players say this is a key attraction of the emerging asset.
Prices quadrupled in 2020, finishing the year near $29,000. The bull market roared through the early months of 2021, with prices surging past $60,000, only to crash in May, amid tougher regulatory scrutiny in China and criticism from Tesla founder Elon Musk. Bitcoin plunged 4% to trade near $33,000 on Tuesday.
The already growing crypto boom in Turkey further gained pace over the recent year as investors joined a global rally, hoping to gain from the cryptocurrency’s growth, shelter against inflation and protect their savings due to the depreciation of the Turkish lira.
There are an estimated 5 million active users in Turkey. The country in April said it would ban the use of crypto assets in payments for goods and services, citing “irreparable” damage and transaction risks. The legislation went into effect on April 30.
Turkey has reportedly accelerated its works on new regulations as the government is looking to establish a central custodian bank to eliminate counterparty risk.
Authorities are also said to be pondering a capital threshold for exchanges and education requirements for executives at such firms.