Saturday 04 April 2020

CorkHi12°| Lo

Cork Independent


Opportunity for brothers in greek drama

Thursday, 23rd July, 2015 1:00am

In crisis, there is always opportunity. That's the reason two brothers from West Cork are spending a lot of time setting up an office in Greece over the last few weeks.

One of them, Peter Nagle, bought a one way ticket a few weeks ago. He and his brother James, run Bitcove, an online crypto currency broker that provides a simple way for customers to acquire, maintain and transact with their Bitcoins instantly. The brothers plan to offer Greeks an alternative to traditional banks.  

Bitcoins are a digital currency which uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of Bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is open-source and its design is public, so nobody owns or controls Bitcoin.

While it was developed in 2008, and widely released in 2009 and its inventor remains a mystery, it has become the most well-known and respected crypto currency.

Bitcove, formerly known as The Crypto Broker is a Bitcoin exchange, which enables to people to buy and sell Bitcoin with ease. Bitcove is a startup and recently was named Best Start-Up Business winner for LEO Cork North and West, as part of Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur competition.

With the €20,000 investment from LEO Cork North and West, they planned to establish their own crypto currency exchange platform and use the investment to develop the exchange platform.

They had planned to expand into the UK next, but events overtook them. The financial crisis in Greece meant that they diverted there instead, where they were involved in the first ever Greek Bitcoin meet-up last week in Athens, an event which Peter spoke at.

James studied economics as an undergrad, before doing a computer science conversion course and a further post-grad in computer science. He became interested in crypto currencies after studying cryptography in a network security module in college.

Two years ago they invested in €500 of Bitcoin for speculation and saw it increase in value. They saw how difficult it was to buy and sell Bitcoins though, so the business grew from that. “Acquiring Bitcoin can be very complex and shrouded in mystery. The difficulty in acquiring it can really put people off,” James explains.

“Each Bitcoin transaction has a public ledger and you can track it back to the first transaction. It's very transparent.” he explains.

One or both of the brothers have been in Greece for the last few weeks as they establish a foothold there. While James admits that it can be hard to convince businesses in Ireland of the merits and benefits of Bitcoin, it wasn't very hard to convince Greeks.

When the brothers first got there, they found 10-15 people queueing at the ATM near their hotel each morning trying to take out the maximum €60 daily allowance. James says that many banks ran out of €10 or €20 notes, so often people could only take out €50 notes. When he was there last week, there would 10-15 people queueing up at the ATM near his hotel every morning. “They don't have the option to keep money in Cayman Islands. A lot of wealthier people did that,” he adds.

He says there are rumours that a 30 per cent 'haircut' will be applied to all accounts that have more than €8,000 in them, something similar to what happened in Cyprus a few years ago, a scary prospect.

Three weeks after they first closed, Greek banks were finally re-opened this week. Greeks queued outside banks when they reopened on Monday although limits on withdrawals remain and payments and wire transfers abroad are still not be possible.

For small businesses, it has meant that they have not been able to function as credit cards don't work, Paypal is down and bank transfers are not an option.

“You can't receive payments into the country. If they use Bitcoin, they use it to pay employees and purchase materials. For importers they can't maintain themselves, they want to but raw materials and things like Google Ads but they can't. A lot of Greek businesses have been locked out of the global economy,” the economics grad explains.

“We act as enablers between Irish and Greek companies. We are setting up a Greek website to enable intra-state transfers.”

They started by putting ads in Greece and met a lot of interested Greeks, one of whom now works for Bitcove.

“We've got proper roots in Greece. It's the first move out of Ireland and it takes a bit of work to set up but it can be replicated. We are developing a small team to handle customer enquiries and getting financially compliant. There's a great buzz there.”

It will be a month before they can open a bank account in Greece. They already have an office space in Athens and their employee is one of the main movers in the Bitcoin scene in Greece.  

There are a number of advantages to using Bitcoin in Ireland too, but people are slow to change, the brothers find. The advantages are more obvious in Greece, where “credit cards are being declined and money is trapped in banks. There is a lot more openness and positivity towards Bitcoin in Greece. They are introducing Bitcoin ATMs where you can withdraw €1,000.

“The current system with the euro and the European Union is not much of a union anymore. Since the Greek situation, we are getting a lot more enquiries. The price of Bitcoin has risen since last month due to the situation in Greece,” he adds.

Will the brothers now be setting up in other countries that suffer financial catastrophe? They don't rule it out, but it certainly wasn't the original idea.

“Our plan was always to expand into other countries, but Greece wasn't the plan. The UK was supposed to be next. We will go where we will be heard the best and where we can make the most impact,” James says.

See for more details.


ePaper Service

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8
Desktop, Tablet & Smartphone friendly
Cookies on Cork Independent website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. We also use cookies to ensure we show you advertising that is relevant to you. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Cork Independent website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time by amending your browser settings.
How does Cork Independent use cookies?
Cookies enable us to identify your device, or you when you have logged in. We use cookies that are strictly necessary to enable you to move around the site or to provide certain basic features. We use cookies to enhance the functionality of the website by storing your preferences, for example. We also use cookies to help us to improve the performance of our website to provide you with a better user experience.
We don't sell the information collected by cookies, nor do we disclose the information to third parties, except where required by law (for example to government bodies and law enforcement agencies).
Hide Message