Bitcoin cash machines are spreading across Greece, allowing people to deposit cash and have the digital currency credited to their special digital wallet or vice versa. From that point on, no one can monitor the course of the money.
A virtual currency that operates in parallel with the conventional monetary system, without any surveillance or regulation, prevents any checks over where the deposited cash comes from or where it goes. This is a well-known problem internationally that is only now appearing in Greece, attracting the attention of the state, which notes the existence of a “black hole” that funds may be transferred into, and not always legally.
In Greece, the competence of monitoring and the formation of the necessary framework has been granted to the Capital Market Commission and not the central bank, as is the case in other countries, because a number of people view digital cryptocurrencies as portfolio assets and not currency.
Internationally there have even been yacht sales using bitcoin. The way this market is structured secures complete anonymity for the parties involved.
Such terminals are springing up at bookstores, cornershops, minimarkets and small specialized spaces in Athens and other Greek cities, with concerns growing over how this gray market is being used and by whom.
Capital Market Commission Vice President Natasa Stamou explains to Kathimerini that “the anonymity, the speed of transactions, the easier concealment of the origin and destination of money, and the capacity for transfer and storage outside the regulated credit system render cryptocurrencies ideal for conducting illegal activities, which cannot be detected and tackled in a timely and efficient manner.”
Typical illegal activities related to cryptocurrencies, according to the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF), include the trafficking and sale of drugs and other forbidden substances and items, such as weapons, as well as fraud, blackmail, tax evasion, cyberattacks, human trafficking and unlicensed financial services, while cryptocurrencies are also used for capital concentration and the evasion of financial sanctions.
Stamou notes, “Cryptocurrencies are accepted in Greece as a means of payment at over 100 enterprises.”