In the middle of the Mediterranean, the island of Cyprus seeks to become a major crypto hub in the European ecosystem. Driven by accommodating public policies and a dynamic university center, the country would like to develop its digital infrastructures to strengthen its attractiveness. A future “blockchain island” on the horizon?
On the borders of Europe
With its 1,200,000 inhabitants, Cyprus aims to take advantage of its small size and island location to develop its digital industry. A member of the EU since 2004, it is the most remote country in Europe, not far from the Middle East. Its particularly troubled recent history places it in a landlocked position (Turkey has occupied a third of the island since 1974). Unable to compete militarily with its hostile neighbor, the country nevertheless wants to build your digital independence.
The government aims to emancipate the island by developing its attractiveness, without necessarily going through tourism. Cyprus is thus taking a digital course, with diversification as the horizon and blockchain and cryptocurrencies as the compass. The small state also wants to be able to move some of it data centers betting on the windfall of energy represented by solar energy. The resource is indeed particularly abundant in this region, geographically closer to Africa than to the European continent.
A vibrant crypto community
Cypriot interest in blockchain technology and its promising applications did not come from nowhere. There is indeed a huge crypto community. It brings together utopians, entrepreneurs and other bitcoin supporters. About 11% of the Cypriot population would be interested in cryptocurrencies. The capital, Nicosia, regularly hosts independently organized events and seminars. They cover a wide range of areas of interest related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. it interactive map provides insight into local communities’ interest in cryptocurrencies.
A paradise for companies and investors?
To achieve its goals, the Cypriot state has long sought to attract foreign investment. Cyprus is not not a tax haven in the narrow sense of the term (EU member, subject to strict regulations). In fact, the country is still very attractive in terms of taxes. Maintaining historical ties with the Russian diaspora, many oligarchs fuel the island’s economy. However, the war in Ukraine has undermined this relationship: the Cypriot state is looking for new funds to fuel its ambitions and economy.
In a sector where everything remains to be proven, the government is taking some risks by investing in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Because even if the island is experiencing a certain boom today, the memory of The banking crisis of 2012 remains intact in the minds of investors. Furthermore, the Cypriot economy is still heavily dependent on tourism. On the other hand, it can rely on its impressive merchant fleet (The 11th power maritime in terms of number of boats, 3ᵉ in Europe).
A state strategy in favor of cryptos
Although the law does not provide any specific framework for cryptocurrencies and blockchain, the state’s interest in these technologies is growing. Several strategic areas have been identified. Cadastre, customs, educational certification/digital certification, KYC, supply chain… So many areas that the government wants to associate with new emerging technologies: blockchain and NFTs will have their use cases. This is already the case with the company Vechain, specializing in traceability via blockchain. Since 2020, it has helped improve the accessibility and storage of information with the country’s health infrastructures. In the financial plan, the state has given the green light forthe establishment of the neo-bank revolution in. Crypto assets are now available to Cypriot customers.
Blockchain study at university: a historical center in Cyprus
The University of Nicosia is an important research center studying blockchain-related technological phenomena since 2014. UNIC has established itself as a leading facilitator of blockchain and web 3.0 education not only in Cyprus but also worldwide. For the island, betting on the training offer is another way to build one soft-power digital. The department is also regularly consulted by the European Commission to produce analyzes of continent cryptoecosystems. The university department offers in particular online course accessible to everyone, worldwide. UNIC’s curriculum (“Introduction to Digital Currencies”) has been followed by nearly 40,000 students since 2014. To combine words with action, it issues its diplomas and certificates in the form of NFT, in addition to the traditional paper diploma.
NFT technology actually enables the authentication of documents, thanks to its digital non-fungibility properties. In 2022, UNIC also announced a new course open to NFTs and metaverses. Added to MOOC (massive open online competition) on decentralized finance (DeFi). Thus, the University of Nicosia wants to enrich its training offer by surrounding itself with a multidisciplinary team of researchers. This strong development is once again part of a long-term strategy. By focusing on training, the country wants to attract the brains that will build tomorrow’s digital economy.
Without a doubt, Cyprus is a small nation. However, she dreams of innovation. Could it become a model for other crypto nations around the world? Ambitious, the island nation wants to develop its digital industry thanks in particular to blockchain. This strategy aims to promote the country in the international community, while relations with neighboring Turkey cannot be relaxed. This small, relatively unknown state can be well talked about in the crypto and blockchain ecosystem. a new one” blockchain island ” in Europe ?
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Fascinated by the history of Bitcoin and the cypherpunk movement, I think citizens should reinvest in the field of money. My objective ? Democratize and make visible the potential of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.