In only the last few weeks, several of the world’s largest financial institutions and top innovators have announced plans to take on digital currency and explore the role that bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain, might have in changing the way B2B payments are made.
A lot of these ventures are experimental, of course. But in a tiny island off Greece’s mainland, the local economy is putting digital currency to the test. The launch of the Nautiluscoin project on the island of Agistri may be small-scale, but if successful, the impact could be monstrous.
[bctt tweet=”In a tiny island off Greece’s mainland, the local economy is putting digital currency to the test.”]
Like bitcoin, Nautiluscoin is a digital currency. It was developed last year with the specific needs of investors and the unique challenges of economic fluctuations in mind. According to its developers, the goal of the Nautiluscoin is to “use digital currency and blockchain technology to bring money into an economy.”
On that platform, the Drachmae Ecosystem project will be using Nautiluscoin on Agistri, about an hour away from Athens, to launch its “full economic ecosystem” based on the currency. The project is scheduled to begin this weekend.
According to reports in Forbes on Friday (Sept. 18), the system “will have a fully functional mobile banking system, a B2B eCommerce platform, and a travel booking site” all fueled by Nautiluscoin, and all in an effort to potentially jumpstart a struggling Greek economy.
“With this technology we can deploy a fully functioning economic ecosystem, which includes a banking system, a commerce platform and a currency,” said Brian Kelly, whose VC group Brian Kelly Capital is reportedly planning a seed investment in the project. “We are excited to play a part of this revolution and showcase the practical benefits of digital technology to people’s everyday lives and businesses.”
The B2B Impact
Forbes reported that while the venture will hopefully help the island – and the rest of Greece – promote more business and tourism, the Drachmae Ecosystem is also a test-run for the role of digital currencies in the B2B space.
Reports said the project, which will operate in tandem with existing financial systems, will have access to the blockchain system over which Nautiluscoin will operate. Companies will also be able to use the B2B eCommerce platform to connect directly with suppliers and transact with the currency.
Greece’s ongoing economic problems, some analysts say, have been exacerbated by the fact that the government is capping foreign payments to suppliers to prioritize payments for the essentials, like food and medical supplies. With businesses in the country unable to pay their suppliers, some have reportedly faced damaged or severed ties with their international business partners, making global companies skittish about doing future business with Greek firms.
A Tall Order
Launching a bitcoin-based financial system on a tiny island of only about 1,000 is one thing, but as Forbes reported, it’s quite a tall order to successfully launch a similar venture for Greece as a whole, with a population of about 11 million — especially as an effort to help prop up a struggling economy.
“While digital currencies have been proven at providing a means to remove capital from an economy, few have shown that adoption and use can actually drive economic growth,” the article stated. “The Nautiluscoin project says it aims to prove it can be achieved.”
[bctt tweet=”‘[Few digital currencies] have shown that adoption and use can actually drive economic growth'”]
Realistically, the global economy may be nowhere near this achievement. Still, the project, with support from venture capitalists and supporters of another digital currency, NXT, at the NXT Foundation, signals the attention that blockchain and digital currency technologies are gaining among economic players and experts.
In the last month alone, IBM, UPS, and a consortium of major banks — including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, RBS, UBS, Credit Suisse, Barclays and others — have all made announcements that they will explore the potential of the blockchain – and that much of this development will be focused on the use of the tool for B2B payments, especially international and cross-border ones.
With all the chatter, it may not be so far-fetched to imagine that a tiny island may soon be known as the start of mass blockchain adoption, and as the catalyst to a revolution in B2B payments. Or, the experiment could be a flop. Either way, innovators will be watching it closely.