Greeks convert euros to bitcoins in case Greece exits EU
04 Jul 2015
Greeks are converting their euros to bitcoins as a safeguard against a return to devalued drachma in the event of a ''No'' vote in a referendum, due on Sunday.
Although absolute figures are not known, Greek interest in online "cryptocurrency" has surged in recent weeks. Bitcoins are out of the reach of monetary authorities and can be transferred at the touch of a smartphone screen.
New customers depositing at least €50 with BTCGreece, the only Greece-based bitcoin exchange and open only to Greeks, increased 400 per cent between May and June, according to exchange founder Thanos Marinos. The average deposit had increased four times to around €700.
With bitcoin, Greeks would be able to beat the capital controls put in place this week to prevent transfer of money out of their bank accounts and, if they wished, out of the country.
First Post reported Adam Vaziri, a board member of the UK Digital Currency Association, saying that when people are trying to move money out of the country and the state is stopping that from taking place, bitcoin is the only way to move any value
"There aren't any other options unless you buy diamonds, and that's very difficult to move," Vaziri added.
According to media reports, Greek interests in the cryptocurrency increased, after the country imposed capital controls, limiting cash withdrawals to €60 (£43, $67) a day.
Marinos told CoinTelegraph in an interview that the number of customers newly registered with the exchange had increased by 600 per cent.
"People are in shock as they never expected to have closed banks and at the same time risking being out of eurozone and euro currency soon," he said.
A ''No'' vote in the referendum would cause Greece's exit from the eurozone and if that happened, the Greeks would have to convert all their banks deposits into a greatly devalued national currency.
Digital currencies such as bitcoin are unregulated unlike other currencies and are transferred over a peer-to-peer network without the help of intermediaries, which makes it easy for people to invest in bitcoin without any restrictions.