Greece is largely considered the weakest EU economy and has had to approach the body several times for bailouts. A weakened economy, rising debts and unemployment, and a polarisation of politics have exacerbated the situation. The far-right has grown increasingly popular and many fear what the outcome will be. Despite the country’s reputation as a heavenly tourist destination, the future could see more economic problems. In this volatile economy, how has cryptocurrency been treated in Greece?
Cryptocurrency’s impact on Greece
In an interview with Garden of Crypto, Greek tech entrepreneur Andreas M. Antonopoulos commented that when the Greek banks shut down in 2015, the public sought a safe alternative on the internet, starting Greece’s cryptocurrency frenzy. Crypto thus became a safe haven for assets as the banks became more volatile and less safe to store assets. Like in many other struggling economies today, such as Argentina and Zimbabwe, cryptocurrency became a form of resistance to an economy mired in controversy, corruption, and debt.
In May 2020, Bitcoin.com reported that the interest in cryptocurrency from Greek women had grown 163.67%. This was the highest percentage in Europe in this study. The number of Bitcoin ATMs in Greece also increased to at least five.
In response to large-scale tax avoidance, the Greek government in late 2019 announced it would require digital tax receipts from citizens. This in turn curbed the high-density cash economy that Greece functions on, with low payed workers being hardest hit, reported Coindesk.
These extra banking measures will largely affect the lower and middle classes who rely on Greek banks. As the cryptocurrency community is small and largely affluent, the new banking regimes will not really affect their assets stored primarily in foreign banks.
Meanwhile, economists and analysts have criticised the Greek state’s increasing reliance on higher tax rates. Many claim that this will lead to terrible cash flow problems for the shrinking middle class.