Why cryptocurrency owes so much to Cyprus? Isn’t it a weird question you’ve ever heard?
I’m not a fan of strong declarations. However, if I made an assumption that nowadays everyone has heard of bitcoin, I won’t probably be much wrong. At first, when you hear that cryptocurrency might owe something to Cyprus, you would be surprised a little bit. But, actually Cyprus has ignited the interest towards blockchain (technology behind the cryptocurrency) and made people consider it seriously. Let’s talk about it.
Bitcoin, which many consider it equal to cryptocurrency or blockchain, was created in January 2009. Despite this fact, ordinary people almost ignored cryptocurrency until 2017. Before, it was as a revolution of anarchists who don’t like the concept of centralized control. And a game of IT nerds who write complicated programming codes day and night. All of that changed in 2017. The simple citizens changed their mind and jumped into it to take a share of such hot pie. And it happened for some reasons which I will mention below.
The first significant positive sign was in 2017. We’ve got the ok from the Japanese authorities. Japan announced that Bitcoin will be accepted as a legal payment method starting from April Fool’s Day. And it was not a joke. From this moment, we’ve seen a permanent price increase in the bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Next event took place in August when SegWit happened. It’s a new approach in blockchain technology which improves the processing of the cryptocurrency transactions. For example, VISA could process 1000 payments in a second. Instead, Bitcoin was capable to do only 3. After the SegWit event, we heard about the appearance of the new Bitcoin variations: Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold. Basically, Bitcoin ecosystem divided on few groups. Each of them had their own ideas how to improve cryptocurrency technology.
As a result, the price of Bitcoin jumped to 5,000$ at the end of August. Lastly, the final price spike happened in December 2017 when Bitcoin was trading for slightly below 20,000$. The major reasons: the introduction of Bitcoin futures trading on 2 leading US exchanges and the surge in visibility in the mainstream newsmedia.
I started becoming interested in cryptocurrency in 2014. I was trying to read on internet, watch youtube videos or listen to TED sessions. Honestly, from all that information I could barely understand anything. The problem was that the language the speakers used was too technical. Have you ever listened to Vitalik Buterin (Ethereum founder)? I remember my feeling was something from “I’m super stupid” to “he is an alien”. The way he expressed his thoughts was awkward. At that time, the cryptocurrency ecosystem was lacking to have people who could explain it in a plain English. Nowadays, it totally changed and you have a big choice of experts who will cover any topic and in any language you want.
Cyprus financial crisis
So, why is Cyprus considered the turning point in the cryptocurrency development? Due to the banking crisis which happened in Cyprus in 2012-2013. For the first time people started to consider blockchain as a serious alternative to the existing banking system. As you may have remembered, the Cypriot banks were over-exposed to Greek fixed income securities. When Greece failed to pay out its liabilities, the Cypriot banks suffered drastic losses. Which put under the risk the whole banking system. Consequently, the Central Bank of Cyprus was under pressure from the world financial authorities. As result, they adopted such unforeseen measures as to cover its losses with depositors’ money. Then the adepts of the blockchain showed up and stated that it could never happened in their decentralized system.
The role of media
The leading media sources like CNN, CNBC or Forbes wrote articles about it. There is a nice documentary about bitcoin called “The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin” which highlights the important “contribution” of Cyprus. Ever since this moment, many more people started to be interested in the cryptocurrency philosophy and technology. The trading volume on cryptocurrency exchanges peaked its records. The number of blockchain supporters has been steeply going up.
University of Nicosia (UNIC)
I believe Cyprus has good reasons to become a blockchain technology hub. First of all, have you ever tried to type such keywords in google search as “digital currency course” or “cryptocurrency course”? Who is in the top results? Seriously, did you expect it? My good friend Chrysanthos Kanari who in 2016, was working for the University of Nicosia (UNIC) told me about it. The thing is that the UNIC was one of the first who realized the potential of blockchain technology and launched the course back in 2014. In case you wish to double check the information above, try to type in google search something like “the best universities to study blockchain”. Almost any result you open, it will contain the University of Cyprus among the world leading educational institutions. Isn’t it amazing?
Infrastructure and skills
Beside education, Cyprus also hosts many IT companies. Ranging from giants like Wargaming, IBM, AMDOCS, MetaTrader, Spotware, PrimeXM, and Leverate, to small and start-up firms. There is a mainstream of Russian companies relocating to Cyprus with its highly skilled programmers and developers. They consolidated the solid IT workforce which may spur the development of new blockchain products or services. Moreover, in lаst few decаdes Cyprus built а big number of forex, binаry options brokerаges аnd service providers. They might consider to explore blockchаin projects аs profile of service offered аnd infrastructure used hаs mаny similаrities.
In conclusion, bitcoin or blockchain – it’s not only a buy/sell digital currency and make easy speculative gains or losses. Blockchain allows you to build your project or startup. There are many platforms which can be used for that. The first and the most known is Ethereum. However, it requires more electricity than the whole Cyprus consumes. Today there are more advanced, efficient and cheaper blockchain platforms such as Stellar, EOS, NEO, NEM etc. As a founder of Cyprus Job Market I carefully monitor blockchain development. To spot any useful tool in order to make job search in Cyprus even better.