A geek, capital controls in Greece and bitcoin.
On June 29, the Greek government imposed capital controls. This is one of the worst things that can happen to any economy —being better only to a banking sector collapse and default.
I can't even start enumerating the negative effects this decision had to every sector of social and business activity in the country. But I'll try to describe how it affected a geek like me.
So due to capital controls, no credit or debit card issued in Greece can be used to pay for services and goods outside the country. Which means that payments to services like Google Drive, Google Cloud Services, Amazon AWS, Facebook Ads, etc that were normally charged on my credit or debit cards started failing.
"Google Apps for Work for ************ payment failure: Update payment method to prevent suspension" —The Google Apps Team
"Failed Payment - CreditCard" —Facebook Ads Payments Support
"Your Google Drive storage plan has been canceled" —Google Drive Team
"Your AWS Account is about to be suspended" —Amazon Web Services
and so on...
It really makes me nervous to see this at the top of my GMail account
and I'm panicking at the idea that domains I've used for more than a decade may expire because I can't use my credit card!
Most services were kind enough to give me a limited grace period, but there's nothing in the situation in Greece that makes me feel that the problem will go away in the next few of weeks.
So, I decided to try bitcoin. There is a whole ecosystem of services I was not aware of that let you buy, sell, trade bitcoins as well as efforts to build gateways to more traditional currencies, like debit/prepaid cards that can use bitcoins.
In the short term, I'll probably ask a friend who lives outside Greece to buy me a prepaid card, and I'll send hime the amount in bitcoin. In the meantime, I hope Xapo will get me my debit card (and I hope it works as expected) to make this simpler.
I also intend to use bitcoin payments for any small, personal project I launch in the future. Bitcoin payments will be a second area of experimentation for me. I know I will be leaving out the vast majority of users who are not familiar or don't trust bitcoin, but for me, it's the best way to bootstrap a project, without setting up a company —and setting up any company in Greece is something I'll try to avoid by any means due to red tape, the everyday changing tax system, and all the problems I went through every time I did it.
So, if you are a bitcoin newbie like I am (or maybe even if you are not), follow this blog as I will be writing about my bitcoin "adventures": what worked, what didn't, fees, tech issues and solutions.
I would also appreciate any small donation in bitcoin.
It would also be great if you know of someone at Xapo who could help me get my debit card as fast as possible :-)