Since the banks were shut down by the government for three weeks on June 28th, the people of Greece have been finding that the swapping of goods and services is much easier than making deals based around cash. This has been seen on the smallest level, with farm workers paid partially with crops rather than with money, but it’s also been reflected further up the business food-chain.
The country has famously become the first advanced economy to default on an International Monetary Fund loan, leading to the request for a third financial bailout. The banks were shut down completely for three weeks, but even now Greeks are only able to withdraw €420 each week.
Bartering, of course, is not something new for the Greek people, with rural communities still exchanging certain products and services. This is a practice which has increased due to recent events, but online platforms demonstrate that this age-old method of doing business has gained momentum across the wider community.
In the words of Haris Lambropoulos, an economist and professor at the University of Patras: “In the past it was mostly on a family and individual level, but now is expanding due to the developments in the banking sector and capital controls. Now it is a more structured and organised phenomenon.”
Tradenow, a Greek website started three years ago in order to facilitate the bartering of anything from food to complex pieces of technology has reported double the number of users and double the volume of transactions since controls came into effect on June 29th. The company’s chief executive has stated that businesses no longer need to be reached out to, but are rather getting in touch themselves in order to register and take advantage of this growing online practice. The platform has reportedly concluded around 3,000 transactions which are worth a total of €800,000.
Though the increase in bartering has been motivated by financial instability, many Greek businesspeople – particularly those at the head of smaller businesses – have begun to notice the long term benefits. Able to reduce their outgoings while still enjoying the services and products vital to their enterprise, it seems as if bartering will remain popular even as the country moves towards financial stability.