Today’s referendum is reportedly too close to call, adding another layer of drama in a crisis that has Greece teetering on the edge of economic apocalypse, is depleting of vital supplies and has it literally running out of cash.
In order to keep commerce afloat, businesses are reportedly resorting to their own forms of virtual money. There are actually two issues at play: liquidity crucial to the economy has all but dried up, driving businesses to improvise another means of value transfer. More significantly, each business is desperately trying not to be the last one caught holding onto euros in a Greek bank account.
“It is like musical chairs because nobody wants to be the last one left standing with money in their account when the music stops,” said Vasilis Papadopoulos, owner of the local Maxi paper mill, in an interview with The Telegraph.
“Everybody is afraid of a haircut. Our clients are trying to pay us as much as possible, and transfer their problems to us. We, in turn, are paying everything in advance: taxes, gas, anything we can.”
His company has reportedly reached deals with local supermarkets to accept coupons or private scrip money in lieu of payment. His employees will then use the paper as parallel currency to buy groceries.
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Meanwhile, Martin Schulz, head of the European Parliament, told German radio that Greece will have to introduce another currency if the outcome of today’s referendum is ‘no’. The euro will no longer be available as a means of payment.
“The moment someone introduces a new currency, they exit the euro zone. Those are the elements that give me some hope that the people will not vote ‘no’ today,” he said.
Demand for Bitcoin
As Greeks ponder the future of money in their country, there has been a noticeable uptick in demand for bitcoin.
Several exchanges have reported spikes in inquiries from prospective Greek customers, and there has been speculation that Greece fears were responsible for driving bitcoin prices higher.
The crisis has also given the Bitcoin community’s more passionate libertarians ample ammunition for their case against the existing monetary system.