Turkish Treasury and Finance Ministry's recent mandate that citizens present official IDs when carrying out foreign currency exchanges has prompted fears of getting blacklisted by the government and boosted unregulated trades, the daily Cumhuriyet reported on Oct. 26.
The requirement to show IDs while exchanging foreign currency has led to Turks resorting to exchanging their currency outside of exchange offices, mainly in jewelry shops.
"There's a search for alternatives. People go to jewelry stores because they don't have to show their IDs, or they go to people who exchange illegally," said Mustafa Ünver, the chair of the Foreign Exchange Offices Administrators Association.
According to the new rules, exchange offices are obliged to make a record of transactions, their dates and amount.
The recent move comes as citizens have been buying foreign currencies in the face of a weakening currency and increasing inflation figures.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly called on Turkish citizens to sell dollars and euros to support the national currency.
Some businesses including supermarkets have been trading foreign currency for goods and giving customers back liras for change, Ünver noted.
"People are worried about getting blacklisted. A man comes in to cash 20,000 liras with a 10,000-lira salary. Offices put him on the record," the chairman said, noting that they have a duty to report suspicious trades to the Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK).
People will continue trading in cash outside of exchange bureaus when they close at 6 p.m., Ünver said, adding that the government tries to put the blame on exchange offices because they can't regulate such illegal trades.
The mandate including ID presentation will completely monopolize the exchange market as it gives the state authority to tell small businesses to shutter their operations, Ünver noted.
The Foreign Exchange Offices Administrators Association will petition for the reversal of the recent mandates and will have a meeting with the Treasury and Finance Ministry, Ünver added.