Interview with Drachmae

Thursday 04 June 2015

Is putting Greece’s valuable but illiquid state assets on a blockchain as a secondary currency the alternative to default? BitScan talks to Lee Gibson Grant, founder of Drachmae, about the team's ideas and the challenges they face.

How did you come up with the idea for Drachmae?

I am fascinated by the digital currency sector and believe it potentially offers a way out of the current situation. The idea initially came to me as I thought of Greece using one of its islands as a test case for the rest of the country about the virtues of a digital currency.

Read also: Drachmae: Greece's last hope?

I was struck by the physical assets and infrastructure within Greece (in infrastructure terms it’s the seventh richest country in the EU whereas Germany is seventeenth); Drachmae could offer a way to monetise these assets into a digital currency that could exist alongside the Euro and be paid through a digital ledger, the Blockchain. Drachmae would enable the Greek government to maintain all its legal and contractual obligations but at the same time have a clear and transparent means of paying civil servants and pensioners that can be viewed through Blockchain.

Greece and the Euro

Greece's problems are huge and apparently intractable, at least with conventional thinking

What are the practical/technical problems you would have to overcome?

This technology has huge potential but it remains up until now untested. No single Blockchain can be used for payments to all sections of society.

Technical challenges can however be overcome. The real obstacle in my opinion is conceptual - people have to believe that an intangible line on a screen is worth the same as a paper note they’re holding in their hand. Creating that sense of trust and confidence will I think be a far greater challenge than technical challenges associated with Blockchain.

Would you use a new blockchain, or existing tech?

I would prefer to use existing technology that’s at least six months old and has the necessary technical attributes. Nxt technology will mostly be used and this is due to its built-in core functions.

What are the bureaucratic/political issues involved?

That remains to be seen. I can say we have seen interest from governments in Europe and Asia and I will be demonstrating the benefits of digital currencies to senior officials this summer. We have seen a broad spectrum of interest from members of the Media, Academics, Governments and people within the financial services industry. There’s a real sense that technology is offering incredible opportunities for the average person on the street who’s tired of the poor services financial services firms offer. Drachmae isn’t encumbered by legacy issues and provides an innovative and creative solution to the people of Greece.

What's the link between Drachmae and SuperNET?

SuperNET is the platinum sponsor to Drachmae at this year’s PayExpo [the UK’s annual conference for leading payment providers]. SuperNET was founded almost 12 months ago, and in that time has built up the largest collaborative network of digital currency developers in the world. Drachmae, its newest addition, provides an unprecedented project to outline a ‘Blockchain Solution for Greece’. Drachmae will now participate in a cryptocurrency network alongside a number of leading digital currencies where it will be able to share features and services to the mutual benefit of those participating. It’s a very exciting time for us.


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