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Countries all over the world are waking up to the revolutionary potential of blockchain technologies. Turkey is the latest to establish a new learning and research centre with the aim of creating the next generation of blockchain innovators.

The Istanbul Blockchain and Innovation Center (BlockchainIST) was launched on Friday at  Bahçeşehir University (BAU). According to local news agency the Daily Sabah, the BAU was formed to “close the expertise gap in the market” and spread the technology across the economy.

BAU director Bora Erdamar said that students and entrepreneurs would come together to work on worldwide projects with a “very competent” team drawn from Turkey and further afield. The ambition is to make the BlockchainIST project “the most important center of research and development and innovation in Turkey,” with “scientific studies and publications made in blockchain technologies.” In order to achieve this the centre will have to “cooperate with other universities, the business world and government institutions.

Stressing how seriously Turkey is taking blockchain, Erdamor noted that BlockchainIST is “the first research and innovation center in our country to have been established within a university.” The project’s founders believe that with blockchain Turkey has a chance to be at the forefront of a technology which may “transform humanity.” Erdamor said that they are “trying to lead this business with such a center” and that they would, “strive to train Turkey’s human resources in blockchain and enable the country to lead the world in this area.

Mixed messages

Turkey has had a somewhat ambivalent relationship thus far with cryptocurrencies. In November of last year the country’s Directorate of Religious Affairs pronounced that due to its “speculative nature” Bitcoin was inappropriate for Muslims to buy or sell.

However, while a report by leading Turkish politician Ahmet Kenan Tanrikulu this February stressed the need for regulation, it concluded that “the use of cryptocurrencies can be considered legal since our law contains no prohibition.” Indeed, it even floated the idea of a national digital currency, the Turkcoin.

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