Sunday, July 1, 2018

Why do financial regulators need to learn their lessons with Bitcoin the hard way?

2008-2018 debt crisis has positioned Greece among those EU states (together with Spain, Italy and Cyprus), which financial gate-keepers had publicly revealed their inability to face the challenges of the new, open, technology-based XXI century's economy. Additionally, Greek banking system near-collapse in 2015 led to the astronomical surge of crypto-currencies' popularity.

Greece authorities' long-lasting reliance on EU fractional-reserve, highly centralized banking system led to the complete unraveling of country's financial markets. National debt skyrocketed and international creditors shut their doors to Greek's counterparts. The government reacted by trying to postpone June 2015 installment to IMF. Massive panic ensued with population racing to empty their banks' accounts. In response Syriza's cabinet introduced capital control regime, which limited withdraws to 120 EUR per week. No wonder, then, that so many Greeks saw the light those days and started to convert their savings into Bitcoins.

It came to the point where Tsipras cabinet closely considered an option to use Bitcoin as the anti-austerity measure. That didn't happen, however, but, thanks to this crisis Bank of Greece position on crypto-currencies became significantly less hawkish, compare to that of their EU mates. When BOG issued its first, February 11, 2014 memorandum on Bitcoin it turned out that its content and wording are both measured and thoughtful.

This positive trend was reinforced in February 2018, when BOG stated the following: "Given that virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, are still at the forefront of publicity and with a view to informing the public of the risks associated with their use, including the loss of money, the Bank of Greece refers to the recent Communication from the European Banking Authority (EBA).". It easy to see how this type of matter-of-fact statements is more professional than FUD spread by many other EU central bankers.

Notwithstanding, it hasn't yet led to the massive adaption of crypto by Greek population. Neither it resulted in Bitcoin to be declared a legal tender in this country. Greece official position on crypto is, still, the caution one, and it's unlikely to change without the consent of the ECB. Meanwhile, Bitcoin stays in a gray, "unregulated" zone in Greece.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

political climate: friendly; economic climate: not friendly; regions to focus: locally, Eastern Europe, EU; industries to focus: e-commerce, FinTech, transport, tourism; major limitations: economy in downfall, very high unemployment (although, it started to slowly fall in 2017), over-regulation, high taxes; stimulus: closeness both to EU and to Eastern markets, relatively low costs of living; opportunities: many; Cryptocurrencies and ICOs (outlook): unregulated (moderately positive). The author: Svyatoslav (Svet) Sedov Angel investor and founder of The First International Incubator for Silicon Valley Companies (FirstInternational.In) in the Bay Area, CA, USA.


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from Bitcoin - The Currency of the Internet

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