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Turkey: Cash after the Earthquakes

Categories : Cash and Crises, Cash does not require a technology infrastructure, Cash is available to all users
March 14, 2023
Tags : Access to cash, ATMs, Digital payments, Humanitarian, Turkey
In Turkey, payments-sector stakeholders have sought to restore the provision of cash and banking services after devastating earthquakes.
Manuel A. Bautista-González

Ph.D. in U.S. History, Columbia University in the City of New York

Post-Doctoral Researcher in Global Correspondent Banking, 1870-2000 – Mexico and South America, University of Oxford

This post is also available in: Spanish

On February 6, two earthquakes of 7.8 and 7.5 magnitudes struck Turkey and Syria (see Map 1). Another 6.4-magnitude quake hit the region on February 21. The earthquakes killed over 44,000 people, left tens of thousands homeless, leveled buildings, and disrupted power, transportation, and communications.

Map 1. Middle East: Regions Affected by February 6, 2023 Earthquake

Source: DW (2023).

Turkey’s Banking Infrastructure: Repercussions

The earthquakes disrupted Turkey’s banking infrastructure.

Turkey: Cash and its Infrastructure

Figures from the Central Bank of the Republic of Türkiye (CBRT) show that the currency issued has increased since 2019 (see Graph 1). Currency issues grew more quickly during the Covid-19 pandemic. Cash comprised 89% of retail transactions and 75% in value terms in 2020 (Çevik, Teber 2021).

Graph 1. Turkey: Currency Issued and Currency Outside Banks, 2010-2023 (TRY Thousand)

Note: currency issued in black; currency outside banks in blue. Source: CBRT Statistics: Money and Banking Statistics, CBRT Balance Sheet Data (2023).

The CBRT circulates banknotes via its 21 branches, two cash centers (affiliated with the Istanbul branch), and 16 banknote deposits. By denomination (see Graph 2 below), the TRY100 note (equivalent to USD5.31) is the most prevalent in the country, closely followed by the TRY200 note (equal to USD10.61) due to the country’s high inflation.

Graph 2. Turkey: Banknotes in Circulation by Denomination, 2010-2022 (Banknotes)

Note: TRY200 in blue, TRY100 in black, TRY50 in green, TRY20 in orange, TRY10 in purple, TRY5 in red, and other banknotes in yellow. Source: CBRT Statistics: Payment Systems and Emission (2023).

Turkey’s banking infrastructure has recently diminished (see Graph 3). In 2022, Turkey had 9,661 deposit bank branches, 11.4 per 100,000 people (TBB 2022: iii, iv).

Graph 3. Turkey: Deposit Bank Branches, 2018-2022

Source: TBB Statistical Reports: Banks, Employees, and Branches (December 2022: iii).

Payments Sector: Responses

“The banking sector is committed to providing banking services in the earthquake zone.” – Banks Association of Türkiye (TBB)

Cash Donations and Assistance Help the Most

Beware of Scams

Some scammers channel donations from TikTok and Twitter into PayPal accounts and cryptocurrency wallets.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urged vigilance against charity scams. The FTC advises not to give donations “in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money [… To] be safer, pay by credit card or check.”

This post is also available in: Spanish