When I joined the Coimex team and first heard about their blockchain solutions, I immediately thought that Fatih Bilgin, whom I have collaborated with many times before, must be a part of this project. When we decided to start the ‘Exim Token‘ project, I suggested to the management that “former Bitexen CTO Fatih Bilgin should also be part of this project.” And so, by bringing Fatih Bilgin into the team, we kicked off the Coimex Exim Token and blockchain solutions project.

Now, let’s hear directly from him about his background and experience.

First of all, thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Fatih.

  1. Can you briefly introduce yourself to those who don’t know you?

I graduated from Istanbul Technical University with a degree in Computer Engineering. Starting from my student years, I worked in the software development group of the IT Department at Istanbul Technical University for about five years. After the IT Department, I continued my career at Tickle. I managed a 7-8 person R&D team at Airties for about 1.5 years. I provided software technology development consultancy to the corporate loans team of a global bank for about two years. In 2012, I founded my own company called ABIDOS. At ABIDOS, I developed a local Uber-like application called ‘Taksi Rehberi’. In 2017, we started the Bitexen project. I continue to work on various projects. Now, I am working as the CTO of Coimex’s Exim Token project.

2) Did you start your career directly with entrepreneurship? Can you tell us a bit about this process?

I started my career while still in university. For 4-5 years, I worked in the software development group of the IT Department at Istanbul Technical University. I started as a student and ended up leading the group. After the IT Department, the first company I worked for was Tickle. We provided VAS services, known as ‘value-added services’, to operators like Turkcell, Vodafone, and Avea. These services produced and developed applications that provided various information services to your mobile phone. These applications were in the form of SMS services before smartphones existed. Later, the job turned to application development. I managed a 7-8 person R&D team at Airties for about 1.5 years. Then, in 2012, I decided to establish my own company called ABIDOS. ABIDOS turned into a company that develops software on geographic technologies. In this company, I developed a local Uber-like application called ‘Taksi Rehberi’. This is an application where people can call a taxi and also a taxi station management system. This project has been going on for 12 years. This application is actively used in Istanbul Sultanbeyli and Bursa. Approximately 600 taxis use our software systems.

3) What projects have you completed so far and what joint projects have you been involved in?

While in the ITU software development team, we developed many software solutions that a university might need. Later at Tikle, we developed ‘value-added services’ for phone operators. Here, I mainly worked on the main software architecture. I worked on services that could respond to millions of SMS per second. For example, I was involved in Turkcell’s ‘Goller Cepte’ service. At that time, this service had 850,000 subscribers. When there was a goal, you had to notify 850,000 subscribers. Later, we developed the management interfaces, setup applications, and configurations for Airties devices. Additionally, my team also developed the interface for Airties’s IP TV Starbucks. We also launched the mobile application for Airties. At Tickle, I developed many mobile applications. The first one that comes to mind is GNC. Thus, we managed to provide the same experience to people on different phones like Nokia, Android, Blackberry, and iPhone.

Later, at my own company ABIDOS, there was Taksi Rehberi. We developed a product that combined taxi drivers, passengers, municipalities, taxi stations, and taxi owners, adding value to all of them. There are approximately 600 taxis using it. In 2017, we started the Bitexen project.

4) Yes, you also launched Bitexen, one of Turkey’s best crypto platforms. Since we are on the topic, can you tell us a bit about it? How did the idea for Bitexen come about? How did it develop, and what is its current state?

The project started in 2017. A friend with whom I worked at ITU was working in the finance sector with banks until 2017. He was managing software architecture teams at banks. Later, he wanted to start an initiative to establish a cryptocurrency exchange and told me about it. I said there was a suitable place in my office, and we could work together if he came. So, we started working together in the office. It was an interesting time. There were four different startups in the office. One was ABIDOS Taksi Rehberi, the other was the cryptocurrency exchange that would later become Bitexen, a social media competition program called ‘Hadi Project’, and the other was a project making great products with AI infrastructure… We were all in the same office. In fact, we all contributed to each other’s projects. We achieved very productive work from four different startups in a 100-square-meter office. When we decided to establish a cryptocurrency exchange and connectedly Bitexen, there were only two cryptocurrency exchanges in Turkey. Other than these two, there was no alternative cryptocurrency exchange, and those platforms were inadequate at the time. Seeing such a gap and necessity here, we decided to realize this project. We created a more capable, different vision, much more performant cryptocurrency platform. Our vision was to be not just a cryptocurrency exchange but a cryptocurrency bank. To become a cryptocurrency bank, you need to offer many services. One of these services was to provide access to cryptocurrency, i.e., the buying and selling of cryptocurrency. We started with the cryptocurrency exchange. Over time, we aimed to add different services to this. Bitexen has realized some of these and is planning others. We made Turkey’s first exchange coin. Bitexen came out with its own ‘Exen’ coin. Before Exen Coin, there was no coin in Turkey’s cryptocurrency market. Exen Coin was a marketing coin. People earned Exen Coins by recommending it to their friends and acquaintances, and we were buying these Exen Coins from the board (exchange). By ‘we’, I mean the people who believed in the project. Exen Coin had a revenue model. Many people made serious money from here.

In 2021, we were looking for investment in Bitexen. While looking for investment, we received acquisition offers from two different brokerage firms, i.e., securities firms. We evaluated one of these offers. First, we sold 80% and then 17% within a year. When we sold 80%, we expanded the team. We hired people who would replace us. We developed the system and ensured its operation. We sold the remaining 17.5%. The two partners parted ways. Our other partner continues to work as the CTO of the group company that bought Bitexen. Bitexen fulfilled our dreams. It became a cryptocurrency exchange. We made our token. Later, we started to issue different digital assets, tokens. This was also part of our vision. Our next goal was to issue tokens tied to the real world. Either Bitexen or other companies will realize this. I believe that while some will remain as cryptocurrency exchanges, others will transform into banks or banks will start operating as cryptocurrency banks by acquiring these cryptocurrency exchanges.

5) Since we are on the topic of cryptocurrencies, as a developer and an entrepreneur who has brought a cryptocurrency business idea to life, can you simply explain cryptocurrencies for those who do not know much about them?

The original cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is completely decentralized. The people who invented this cryptocurrency did not claim ownership. Bitcoin was invented by someone named Satoshi Nakamoto, but the real identity of this person is unknown. This person did not come forward saying, “I am the owner of Bitcoin.” Bitcoin became a completely anonymous service gifted to humanity. Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency, but today there is some confusion. Some things are called ‘tokens’ and some are called ‘coins’. The foundation of the matter is blockchain. Projects and platforms with their own blockchain should be evaluated in a different category. Although it is planned for the future, projects currently without a blockchain serving a different purpose and not involving blockchain innovation are known as Tier-2 or Tokens. Examples of coins with their own blockchain include Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Avax. Most of the tokens we see on the market are like the Exen Token on Bitexen. These are tokens living entirely on the Ethereum network or different blockchains supported by smart contracts. The Coimex Exim Token we developed lives on an existing blockchain, not its own. Having a token or a coin does not affect the quality or legality of the project. This is entirely a technical issue. Those using existing blockchains do not have an adaptation problem. They already operate on an existing blockchain. They have efforts related to using their tokens and use cases. This is a brief explanation of cryptocurrencies.

Today, anyone can issue a cryptocurrency. There are many different tokens that everyone knows, like USDT (Tether) or USDC. Someone else can issue a token with the same name. You can think of it this way. Today, anyone can print dollars, but there is an institution that prints the watermark that shows the authenticity of the dollar. When you look at who or what is behind the token, the watermark is behind it. If you trust me, Fatih, the money or dollar I print is real, you say, “I trust this,” and buy dollars from me. If you don’t trust me, you don’t buy. This is what happens today. Many tokens are produced. Among these tokens, people buy the ones they trust or think will be beneficial. That’s what’s happening in the market today.

6) What is the status of cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies in the world and in Turkey?

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies are developing rapidly in the world and in Turkey. When I speak Turkish, I prefer to say blockchain. There is actually adaptation of technology in Turkey. People in Turkey are adapting to blockchain. They are working on it. They buy, send and invest in cryptocurrencies. Turkey has more of this aspect. The development direction in Turkey is slightly less than in the world. New blockchains are emerging in the world and even Turks are working on some projects. There is the Avax project led by Professor Emin Gün Sirer. I was following him on Twitter before the Avax project. Someone who has very good ideas about smart contracts and their security. It created its own blockchain technology. Avax’s features are really good. You need to think carefully about this. The problem that Bitcoin solves is different from the problem that Avax and Etherium solve. These are not interchangeable things. These are different blockchain solutions to be used in different problems, projects or needs.

7) Currently, Coimex’s work on blockchain solutions in foreign trade continues intensively. You work as the Blockchain CTO of this project. What excited you about this project?

Coimex has been working with foreign trade professionals in the field of foreign trade for a long time and has created an ecosystem in the food community. By including reliable and quality companies into this ecosystem, it enables them to trade among each other. What excites me most about Coimex and this project of Coimex is that it started with the ecosystem first. Because, like most projects in Turkey, we can say that this includes Bitexen, and that’s how we started in the beginning. We first saw a problem. We made the technological solution and innovation for this problem. Then we presented the project. After launching it, we continued to develop and grow it. This is a challenging but also a path to success. Coimex approached it a little differently. Coimex said, “we want to produce a blockchain solution and we will do this for foreign trade companies in foreign trade.” Instead of struggling with blockchain technology first, let’s first see if foreign trade companies have such a need. Or will he want to use this solution?” To understand this, he established an ecosystem consisting of foreign trade companies. They gained recognition when they proposed blockchain solutions to the foreign trade community. Think about it, you work with more than 50 thousand companies in 108 countries, these are your members. In between, there are foreign trade attachés and embassies. You have reached many companies through these. You are a company that already does business, issues invoices, and has reached a certain point. You don’t just do internet business. Industry insiders see you at fairs. You meet with foreign trade companies at fairs. You are having online meetings. You have created an ecosystem consisting of foreign trade employees. Once you prepare this ecosystem, get to know the people in this community, instill trust in them over the years, and say, “We will now introduce you to blockchain,” you will gain a very serious advantage. It gained an advantage over companies that came only with digital innovation. However, other companies need to prove themselves and gain trust. Coimex was already a known and trusted player in the industry. This excited me and continues to excite me. Coimex made a different but correct start.

There is a very good team at Coimex. Its founder, Selhattin Urfalı, is a foreign trade professional who grew up in foreign trade and knows what foreign trade is. A person who imports and exports. When you look at Onur Kutlu Gago, who grows the ecosystem, he is someone who is experienced in growing the ecosystem, is conscious and gives confidence to the people around him in his own business. Someone who can listen to the problems and needs of people in the community, understand them, produce solutions and solve problems regarding trust.


Coimex is also very good at developing technology. It develops its own applications. But the blockchain side of things is a little different. We met 1.5 years ago. However, it is a little closer to start working. I was excited to meet Selhattin Urfalı and Onur Kutlu Gago, who are experts in their fields. Because I believe that foreign trade is one of the main usage areas of blockchain. In my opinion, the main uses of blockchain users are letters of credit, loans and foreign trade transactions. I can see this opportunity better. Because I previously provided software technology development consultancy to the corporate loans team of a global bank for about 2 years. I worked on performance improvement for this bank. Of course, when doing this, you also need to know domain information. During this process, I learned what foreign trade, corporate credit, guarantee and letter of guarantee are.

When I entered the crypto world with Bitexen in 2017, I was the main responsible for Bitexen’s blockchain integration and smart contract and developed many of them. And while I was doing all this, I was thinking that these letters of credit, foreign trade would work very well on blockchain and this would be exactly the main wind that blockchain needs. Because sometimes it’s hard right now. What is the main topic of this? Why can I send money via blockchain but not elsewhere? Sometimes such question marks arise. It is sometimes difficult to find areas of use. There are many projects that find use for these. Etherium has different uses. Bitcoin has different uses, but this foreign trade fits perfectly on the blockchain, both in terms of financial volume and technological need.

8) The use of Coimex Exim Token, Escrow, Guarantee, Irreversible Contract in foreign trade is a very important project that will evolve foreign trade to a new generation point. What do you think this foreign trade, Exim Token, Escrow, Guarantee, Irrevocable Contract use provides? Will it create a revolution in foreign trade?

While thinking about what kind of services we could provide in blockchain with the Coimex team, we developed many different usage areas. First, we started with the issue of trust, which is one of the biggest problems in foreign trade. After all, I will make a purchase from abroad, and someone else will make a sale. The buyer is worried about not being able to pay the money upfront and receive the goods from the seller. The situation of not being able to buy the goods here includes situations such as not being able to buy quality goods. The seller of the goods will also send the goods, and the goods will reach the other party’s hands after a certain period of time. Will he send the goods to the other party or not? “I incurred many expenses such as production and logistics. “It is not clear whether I will receive money or not,” he worries. To address all these concerns, we offer an escrow service, which we also call a “your money is with me” service for the buyer. The buyer is coming. When he gives his money, he wants to get the product in return for this money. Therefore, a contract is made between the buyer and the seller. We translate this contract into smart contracts. According to the conditions in the contract between the buyer and the seller, if there is an affordable down payment at appropriate times, the down payment and the entire remaining fee from the down payment are automatically transferred to the seller, when the conditions are met, the money previously secured by the buyer. The seller knows his money will come. The buyer also knows that he will not lose his money if the goods do not arrive. A service that ensures confidence in foreign trade is provided. We started with this first. The buyer puts in his money every time he makes a trade. We lock the money until the contract terms are mutually fulfilled. When the conditions are met, the money is transferred to the seller. The next stage of this is this. Instead of constantly paying money, the buyer has a guarantee… I already have credibility. In return, he receives a letter of guarantee from the bank and offers this guarantee. So we said, for example, let’s have a guarantee of 50 thousand dollars. But let the trade he will make be worth 10 thousand or 20 thousand dollars. Depending on the size of this collateral, all of that trade is allowed to occur. There is no need to lock the money. Because it was taken as collateral. The problem is that the collateral is dollars, that is, something that is not valued. Because normally, when people give a guarantee, they use their house, car, land, or something valuable as collateral. Because currencies lose value because there is inflation. It is not a wise thing to lock something whose value has decreased as collateral. That’s why we decided to make our own token. Thus, Coimex’s Exim Token emerged. This is a token that will constantly appreciate. Companies know this if they deposit collateral in tokens. “I deposited a guarantee and this guarantee is already gaining value. “On top of that, I can also make transactions by showing this guarantee.” In this real world, one can mortgage the land or house as collateral and carry out the trade. This is one of the features that will make the work of foreign trade companies easier and add value to Exim Token. When the buyer gives a guarantee, things become easier for the seller because there is a guarantee behind it. We now come to the use of irrevocable contracts, which we call ‘Irrevocable smart contact’. Since there may be a risk of burning collateral here, we give guarantees to the companies we trust, depending on the size of our own funds. These companies do not burn their guarantees and give you your money. If the opposite happens and these guarantees are lost, we say you can get your money. Irrevocable contract and Exim Token will be used. Payments for transactions such as Escrow services (secure payment) and platform membership will be made via Exim Token. You can think of it as Binance’s BNB Coin or Bitexen’s Exen Coin. Exim Token can be used and valued directly like these coins. As the foreign trade volume and foreign trade of companies grow, Exim Token will also gain value.

9) Cryptocurrency reliability continues to be questioned. As an expert, what do you think, are cryptocurrencies safe?

The security of cryptocurrencies is really a question mark. Trust is always a problem. Why doesn’t anyone carry cash on them these days? Because we generally do not find it safe to carry cash on us. We think someone might take our money. We trust the bank and we keep our money in the bank. But banks can also go bankrupt. This has happened many times in history, and it can happen again. The bank where you put your money goes bankrupt and your money is gone. You keep your money in the bank because it is unsafe to carry money on you, you make your transfers through banks, but banks can also collapse. Or you have taken security measures for your money, but the value of the money is decreasing. In fact, the only problem is not to ensure the security of money but also to protect the value of money. I’m not saying this as an investment. Why should the value of our money decrease? If I have 50 liras today and I can buy 5 bagels for it, I should be able to buy 5 bagels after 5 years. If I can’t get it, it means my money’s value is lost. So money itself is not a safe haven. This was the starting point of Bitcoin. Bitcoin was the way the American government gave billions of dollars to banks for free after the 2008 crisis and saved the banks from the crisis. What does this achieve? Let’s say there is 3 trillion dollars of money in the markets. If you print 300 billion dollars worth of money while you have 3 trillion dollars, you will reduce the value of the existing currencies in the market by 10 percent. This is not always the case, of course. You can also create value in return. For example, let’s consider an agricultural country. When an agricultural country produces 1 million dollars worth of wheat, that country can print 1 million dollars worth of money. Because you have a production in return for that money. In modern countries, this is a complex issue. Modern countries need a serious money supply, on the other hand, they produce value. When you try to save banks because of a crisis, the value of money decreases. Some people who saw this said, “The value of the Dollar in my hand is decreasing, let me hold cryptocurrencies instead of Dollars.” May the value of this cryptocurrency never decrease or even increase. Let it protect itself against inflation. Let the number and supply be fixed.” says. Bitcoin has a supply of 21 million and was created with the thought that there would be no more. In fact, cryptocurrencies are safe in terms of preserving their value. Coming to the part of storing the crypto money, if you store the crypto money in the cryptocurrency exchange just like money and bank, it will be as safe as the reliability of that cryptocurrency exchange.

There is a secret key that enables the use of cryptocurrencies, which is recommended here. It is important that people manage this private key themselves. This requires basic knowledge. You need to know what crypto key storage is and how you should store it. Because this sometimes seems complicated to people, they may be hesitant. You can achieve this with hardware wallets, but this can also have vulnerabilities. The security of cryptocurrencies depends on whether you keep your private key securely with yourself. If you do not keep the cryptocurrency yourself, for example, if you keep it in a cryptocurrency exchange, that cryptocurrency is as secure as that exchange is. If you ask how safe the dollar is today, it is as safe as the bank in which you keep the dollar. Because if the bank goes bankrupt, your dollars are gone too. If the bank has state guarantee, for example, you put 10 million dollars into the bank, the state supports up to 5 million dollars. If I’m not mistaken, Türkiye supports up to 70 thousand dollars. For example, you have 1 million dollars in the bank. The bank went bankrupt, you can get 70 thousand dollars. When you look at it this way, money is actually not safe. Worse still, if the state goes bankrupt, money has no security or meaning. Let’s think about Germany after World War I. There is hyperinflation. The people carry barrels of money and can buy bread with such an amount. Security of money, I’m not just talking about physical security here. Its safety in use depends on many factors. Since crypto money, especially Bitcoin, has a basic energy cost and this energy cost has a value, its value should not fall below a certain number. For example, it should not go below the cost of production. It has security as a value. Speculators may push it too high and then cause it to drop back to its real value. In the meantime, you may have bought it from speculative values. As I mentioned, there is the issue of where to keep your crypto money. I said if you keep it in the stock market, it is as safe as the stock market. Real money is as safe as a bank or even the state behind it. If the cryptocurrency blockchain goes bankrupt, what does it mean for the blockchain to go bankrupt? Breaking people’s trust in its infrastructure and separating the verification nodes of the miners who operate there from the system devalues it. Apart from this, if we talk about the digital security of your funds, my advice is that you should always keep the tamper proof information backed up either in the bank safe or in an envelope, that is, in a secret place. The original may be installed on your mobile phone. The safest thing is to write the password you will generate on paper, have zero connection to the internet, hide that paper somewhere and destroy the computer. We did this at Bitexen. This may sound difficult, but it’s not. Services that will do this will definitely be developed. It would be beneficial for people to read the basic literature on this subject, improve themselves, and keep it safely.

10) Do you think crypto money and blockchain solutions have created the expected revolution in banking? And where will this evolve in the coming period?

Cryptocurrency and blockchain solutions have created a huge revolution. Some people initially viewed cryptocurrency as a form of gambling that gamblers engaged in. He thought it was a currency used for buying illegal things and illegal betting. Today, it is thought of much differently and has more areas of use. Other blockchains are slowly starting to be used in banking, even if it is not Bitcoin. In my opinion, it has not yet created the expected revolution because traditional methods are still dominant. Today, all credit cards work through major cards such as Master Card, Visa and Amex. They have not switched to blockchain. As I mentioned, as Coimex, we want to change this in foreign trade, and we do this as a company that creates a foreign trade community. I think we are doing it from a very correct point. We don’t sit back and wait for the bank to do this. The bank has already created Monopoly in its field, we should not expect that innovation and that system from old systems. Some blockchain companies will emerge here, as we see in payment intermediary companies in Turkey. They will make this revolution with new innovative ideas in both payment intermediation and banking transactions.

I think there is no limit. I see blockchain as a decentralized and global currency. Today, Elon Musk aims to establish a colony on Mars and a space station in space. Over time, it is making serious investments to establish a colony in space. I think in such a case the currency will not be Dollar or Euro. In this case, I think a blockchain solution would be a solution. All of these will enable people to pay each other through an interconnected blockchain network. I don’t think there will be an EFT or Swift transaction. First of all, many things will be different, including our cultures. Maybe we will meet aliens, I don’t know. If there will continue to be money, it will be through blockchain and similar structures. Will it continue to be money? This is different, but blockchain will still continue. Many of the trust problems we mentioned, even if there is no money, even if foreign trade is done without money, there will still be a trust problem. Someone is sending you goods to deliver to someone else. Not just for sending goods for monetary purposes. For example, if I send goods to earthquake victims, will they really arrive? If I could track this on the blockchain, I could actually deliver it. Because at the end of the day, the record of who received the goods is on the blockchain. From this system, we can see exactly which earthquake victims received this aid. I think that would be nice to see. Let’s consider general scenarios, not disaster scenarios. Today, it is important that foreign trade or supply chain management is on blockchain… Is what I eat and drink really what is written on the label? For example, it says Anzer honey. Anzer honey is a type of honey grown in a certain region of the country. For example, there is a hundred tons of honey production per year. You cannot sell 500 tons of honey a year in a place where 100 tons of honey is produced. If we could track all sold honey with blockchain; Which honey came from where? Like to whom it was sold… If we label these on the blockchain, by copying the labels on the stock market, we can somehow prevent all of the fake honey, alcohol, etc. that are sold through under-the-counter production. At the end of the day, for example, let’s say Malatya apricot is our solution. Even Malatya apricot has a certain production capacity. For example, if you produce 10 million tons of apricots a year, you cannot sell 50 million tons of Malatya apricots from these 10 million produced apricots. These 40 million tons of apricots either do not belong to Malatya or are of another type of less quality. If you sell it as Malatya apricot, this would be misleading the consumer. With blockchain solutions, all of these things I mentioned can be solved. Disruptions in the supply chain end. The trust problems that caused the need for banking are also solved.

We thank you.

Interview by: Figen Karaaslan

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