BITCOIN IN GEORGIA: A SUCCESS STORY
On April 28, Georgian Students for Liberty organized its fifth panel discussion for the Defend Your Wallet Campaign.
We decided to dedicate this panel to the topic of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are of big interest among Georgians. We invited young and successful people whose work is associated with cryptocurrencies to introduce the audience to the issue. Our first speaker was Sopo Chkoidze, head of the commercial department at eMoney, who focused on the current trends of bitcoin usage in Georgia and the services that they offer to their clients. The second speaker, Givi Chikovani joined the panel discussion through a skype call from Chicago. He’s currently the CEO of the Innovation and Development Foundation in North America and has vast knowledge about bitcoin and blockchain operation. He explained how bitcoin works, what mining is as well as the different mining methods. The final two speakers of the event were Tengo Vachnadze and George Kiknavelidze, Web developer and Java developers respectively. They focused their speech on cloud mining and introduced alternative cryptocurrencies, like Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, etc.
To explain Bitcoin in few words, we can say that it is the most successful from cryptographic currencies. Its description was first published by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, and since 2009 there has been the open source software for the use of bitcoin, which laid the foundation of the bitcoin network (Nakamoto S. 2008). Technically Bitcoin is based on The Peer-to-Peer, P2P network and therefore does not have a central administrator. To send or receive Bitcoins you need to set up Bitcoin wallet that will give you an address and private key. Transaction between the parties is ensured by “miners” all over the world that use mining software to solve complicated mathematical problems. Anyone can become a miner with the proper hardware and internet connection. There are no transaction fees and miners that validate transactions are given Bitcoin as a reward. The value of bitcoin is not attached to any actual asset or official currency, but its value to other currencies is based on the demand and supply of open market. Bitcoin is a new type of currency created for the new digital world (Patterson S. 2014).
Bitcoin is not unfamiliar to Georgians. It first got the attention of wider masses and media when Bitfury, which is the leading full service blockchain technology company, created a data center in the city of Gori with the support of the Georgian investment fund. The reason this company decided to enter the Georgian market was simple: low taxes, low cost of electricity, suitable business and investment environment. Since then, they opened another center in the capital city. Bitfury currently mines 12% of all bitcoins.
Recently, in collaboration with Bitfury, the Georgian government came up with the innovative system of registering land titles via private blockchain. This is the first time the government uses bitcoin blockchain and considering the fact that bitcoin is often associated with illegal activities, this was a good opportunity for it to improve its reputation around the country.
The reception of the event was wonderful: many people reached out to us to let us know how informative the panel discussion was. People who had never even heard about our organization and therefore had not attended any previous events, said that we were doing an amazing job for the young generation and promised to be the active supporters of our organization in the future. This was particularly significant since the goal of our work is not only to inform and educate those who already share our opinions, but also to reach out and gain new audiences by introducing them to ideas they did not know existed.
Anna Arunashvili is an ESFL Local Coordinator from Gori, Georgia, currently living in Tbilisi. She graduated from the Caucasus University, where she studied humanities. She has done volunteering both in her home country and abroad. Anna joined European students for Liberty in 2016 and she’s one of the organizers of “Defend Your Wallet- Georgia” campaign. This article was also co-authored with Katie Shoshiashvili.
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