Banks in Greece stayed shut on Monday as officials scrambled to prevent the country’s financial system from collapsing. Account holders were facing tough limits on what they can withdraw from ATMs, and trading in Greek stocks and bonds was also halted as measures to prevent Greece from sliding entirely out of the euro zone.
As that happened, the Greek population was looking for alternative currencies and it looks like they’ve found Bitcoin. International Bitcoin marketplaces all around the world are noticing increased traffic from Greece. Ten times as many Greeks are registering to trade Bitcoins on the german marketplace Bitcoin.de than usual and LakeBTC in China also saw a 40% increase in visitors from greece IP addresses.
Over the weekend, the Polish exchange Bitcurex also got flooded with emails from Greeks that wanted to know if Bitcoin is legal currency in the EU, if they can use it as a bank account and where in Greece they can find a Bitcoin ATM.
And while Bitcoins are a perfectly legal currency in the EU, getting them, using them, and trading them for other currencies is where the trouble starts. There is only one Bitcoin ATM in Greece at a bookstore in Athen. Generally just spending the Bitcoin can be difficult too as there only are half a dozen spots in Athens that accept Bitcoin as payment. Among them are a family restaurant, a head-and-neck surgeon, and a yacht rental company – maybe not the optimal choices for a country in trouble.
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