Greece has not been a leading edge market for bitcoin, but the country’s current cash crisis could be making it one. Many Greeks view the cash crisis as a boost for bitcoin, according to a Bloomberg Business report.
Thanos Marinos, who prides himself on being the first to bring bitcoin to Greece a year ago, says bitcoin demand has jumped by 500 percent in four weeks. In a video interview, Marinos notes that when he began the bitcoin exchange btcgreece.com, there were five to 10 clients per day. Now there are 15 to 200 clients making deposits.
“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 block chain technology to Greece.”
More Greeks Buy Bitcoin
A random survey of 10 people on the street showed just two people still had heard of bitcoin. But more Greeks than ever are buying bitcoins.
Thanos is not the only one believing in Bitcoin in Greece. Felix Weis is a computer programmer from Luxembourg who’s taken a year off to travel the world with one caveat: he can only use bitcoin, cash being a last resort. He now stocks up on bitcoin at the country’s only bitcoin ATM at a bookshop in a northwestern suburb of Athens.
“I have to,” Felix says to Bloomberg, because “I cut up my credit card. In Greece, I’m offering people 30 percent extra to try and convince them to start accepting bitcoins because I really believe in it.”
He has an opinion about what should happen in Greece. “It’s hard to compete in the euro zone. After all look at Romania. Compared to what you see in Athens they’re doing better, even though the minimum wage is lower.”
Bitcoin ATM Draws Business
A taxi ride with Felix to one of the only establishments in Greece accepting bitcoin, a family-owned restaurant, is instructive. After insisting on splitting the fare, there’s no alternative but to open an account and accept the £3.43.
The restaurant is closed, but that is not a problem for Felix. The bitcoin community is small, and he knows Nikos Houtas, the owner’s son, who breaks out the ouzo and salad. It is all paid for without a coin or card.
Four or five customers in the past two years have paid using bitcoin, according to Houtas.
But if bitcoin is going to be a viable alternative, many more are going to have to cash in soon.
Featured image from Shutterstock.