The Greek financial crisis over 2015 has taught the entire world a valuable lesson, in the form of how quickly the economy can go from bad to worse. It comes as no surprise to find out residents have been looking for alternative financial solutions ever since, and digital barter seems to be a new preferred option. The growing demand for barter trades could eventually lead to a cashless Greece, and even pave the way for Bitcoin.
Capital Controls Lead to Barter Trading
The concept of barter trades is nothing new under the sun, as humans have been using that particular system until money in its current form became widely adopted. Trading one item for something else is a great way of estimating value, and for the people living in Greece, the best way to bypass strict capital controls imposed by the government and central bank.
TradeNow is one of the most commonly used barter networks in the country, where users rack up “TradePoints”. For example, people can exchange their old electronics for Tradepoints, rather than taking credit or cash for the transaction. Although this concept seems strange in a society where paper bills and coins have become the norm, there is a huge market for such barter operations.
Despite the Greek economy still being rebuilt as we speak, and capital controls being eased up on, there seems to be less demand for cash and credit payments. But at the same time, it is important to note the Greek economy is not out of the woods yet, as they are still dealing with a bailout impasse right now.
Using barter as an alternative economic model is an interesting, yet not entirely surprising choice. In this day and age, most consumers have plenty of goods, yet very little cash on hand. Changing the goods one doesn’t need [as much] against something more desirable is a tried and tested method to exchange value between parties in a peer-to-peer fashion.
But there is a problem that needs to be solved as well since there are over 200 barter trading networks available in Greece. Albeit TradeNow is the most commonly used solution in the country, a more decentralized approach would be preferred, where all of these “points” can be exchanged against each other without too much friction.
That being said, there seems to be an inevitable shift taking place in Greece towards a cashless society. Right now, there are two different types of barter trades going on: a direct exchange of goods, or using a type of unit approximating the value of services rendered. But there are several hurdles to increasing adoption of these systems, as no service has been able to reach critical mass just yet.
Bitcoin can become an ally in this barter system as the popular digital currency can be embraced by anyone in the world. Moreover, Bitcoin operates beyond the control of governments and banks and does not require centralized services such as TradeNow. Greek citizens seem to strive for financial freedom, and what better way to do that than by embracing Bitcoin? Countering the financial crisis is not easy, but bitcoin is an option well worth considering.
Achieving true financial freedom can only be possible when decentralized systems are embraced. Barter and Bitcoin both have the “free market” aspect in common, where buyers and sellers set their own values for goods and services. But the current barter system runs on centralised servers, which the government can seize and shut down at any moment. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is distributed and decentralized, with no way for anyone to shut it down completely..