Comparing the blockchain ecosystems in Turkey and Singapore

Comparing the blockchain ecosystems in Turkey and Singapore

The perception of Singapore from abroad, in this case from Turkey, is indeed not too off the mark. Singapore is a remarkably small and wealthy tropic island where chewing gum is banned. Nevertheless, once a certain effort and time is put in to get to know this city-state, one could realize neither this seemingly unnecessary ban, nor their clearly mandated regulations on certain technologies are created with haste. Ever since its foundation in 1965, Singapore has a meritocratic governance system that resembles one of a hyper-innovative technology firm. From its highly efficient airport to its futuristic gardens, the foundations of a thorough technological ecosystem are apparent in every corner.

A practical example to how this ecosystem churns out on the ground is the SkillsFuture Credit program. In order to both deal with the ageing population and the ongoing automation of jobs that threaten the job market, the government gives out 500 SGD of credit to all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents per year. This credit can be used in various skills-training programs in universities, unions and related institutions. Similar to how consulting firms or banks give training to their employees to keep them up to date with the latest technologies and trends, this credit eases Singaporeans to catch up with the rapid progress around them. Hence, through such actions, the government moves beyond the roles of the regulator or infrastructure builder in the blockchain technology ecosystem, but also an incentive provider for its education. The government-academia partnership in growing the ecosystem of this technology Singapore is clearly an apt one, given that many local universities are already opening full-time courses and programs on blockchain in partnership with relevant firms like IBM. Zilliqa, a “unicorn” blockchain project with a valuation of a billion dollars, is also based on the campus of the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Once we compare such developments to the ones in Turkey, we fortunately do not have a stark, black versus white sort of divergence. Since my two months back in Istanbul, I have had numerous invites to blockchain educational programs, one of which I have organized at a university. The executive cadres in the Istanbul Stock Exchange along with the Central Bank are rumored to have interest and capability to implement blockchain within their systems. Along with these are certain blockchain projects mostly based in Istanbul that are receiving notable presence and awards abroad.

The divergence between the two ecosystems of Singapore and Turkey, I believe, stem from two critical factors. One is prioritization of the developments by the government and the other is the investment climate in the respective countries. Developments in Turkey are more so personal ventures that are found in the niche areas of the country’s general technology scene, with little coordination between themselves and the government. The general ambivalence that surrounds the ecosystem disables it from becoming a robust one that could thrive in the nexus of academia, private sector and the governmental bodies. It is also not due to the sheer technological offering that Zilliqa boasts that enabled it to reach a funding level of a billion dollars. The clear taxation and business laws in Singapore and its world-ranking universities, all coupled with a government that has a positive and supportive stance towards the development of blockchain, all add into a favorable investment climate in the city-state — boosting the prospects of any project that comes out of it. As a regional leader in many technologies such as communications and defense systems, it should not be farfetched optimism that Turkey could garner a similarly robust blockchain ecosystem, drawing inspiration from such working examples.

Onat Kibaroğlu,