If you’re planning a trip to Cyprus next year, you might not need to change money. Bitcoin Cash proponents have recently met with government and financial figures on the island, and are working on Bitcoin Cash integration with the island’s leading point-of-sale processors by November.
The deal was hinted at in a podcast hosted by Roger Ver and Daniel Kelman, as well as a local BCH supporter, Dimetrios Neocleous.
“By November, we’re we’re going to have four thousand merchant stores accepting Bitcoin Cash payments,” Neocleous explains, adding that those four thousand merchants account for around 70% of the island’s merchants.
The podcast was hosted from Cyprus, where Ver and Kelman are pitching the Bitcoin fork to local authorities. “We talked to some payment processors who are doing Venmo-type payments in Cyprus and the EU, and we talked to them about integrating Bitcoin Cash,” said Kelman, an attorney who also works as a Bitcoin Cash advocate.
“If we can integrate Bitcoin Cash,” Kelman said, “Cyprus could become Bitcoin Cash Island.”
“We met with a lot of government officials, including the the president,” Kelman said. “Cyprus is taking [blockchain] legislation very seriously.”
On Twitter, Kelman shared photos of the pair meeting with President Anastasiades at the presidential palace in Nicosia. They also set up BCH wallets for government staff.
Although Ver and Kelman were sparse on details, the announcement could be a prelude to greater adoption. Cyprus’ central bank does not process cryptocurrency transactions, and cryptocurrencies are limited to local intermediaries, ATMs, or Revolut cards.
However, that hasn’t stopped Cypriots from showing their interest. The University of Nicosia is one of the first accredited institutions of higher education to accept cryptocurrencies from its students, and its Blockchain Initiative offers the first Master of Science degree in blockchain and distributed ledger technology.
Bitcoin Cash has also opened an “embassy” in Limassol, the country’s second largest city.
The move to cryptocurrency is especially appropriate, given Cyprus’ recent financial history. During the 2013 economic crisis, the government responded by passing the banks’ losses on to their depositors. The bank ‘bail-in’ became a cautionary tale in cryptocurrency circles, and put Bitcoin in the spotlight as a viable alternative to banks and other third parties.
The author has investments in Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.