At a coffee shop on a beach in Athens sits Thanos Marinos. The forty-something Greek prides himself on being the first to bring bitcoin, a digital currency, to his cash-strapped country a year ago.
“I didn’t see it as much as a business case back then,” says Marinos. “The main reason was to bring awareness about bitcoin and blockchain technology to Greece.”
Demand has never been stronger, he says, up by 500 percent in four weeks.
When starting from zero though, even 500 percent doesn’t go far. Greece is a country of more than 10 million and an average age of 43.5. A quick and un-scientific survey of 10 people on the street showed just two people had heard of bitcoin.
That hasn’t deterred others from joining in. A bookshop in a northwestern suburb of Athens is home to the country’s only bitcoin ATM. One man is stocking up. His name is Felix Weis, a computer programmer who’s taken a year off to travel the world with one caveat: he can only use bitcoin, and cash as a last resort.
“I have to,” Felix says, because “I cut up my credit card. In Greece I’m offering people 30 percent extra to try and convince them