When Anastassov, a 31-year-old marketing professional, first hears how much money can be made cryptocurrency, it seems to be true. But when his friend sold the apartment and bought dozens of crypto-mining rigs in 2020, Anastassov decided to join him.
“I bought two crypto-mines for € 3,000 each, hoping that this investment would activate around 500 500 a month soon..
Ethereum prices are about to double in the next few months since I bought the mines in October 2020.
“The price of Ethereum rose to € 600 in December, and already in January 2021, more than 600 1,600. In April, my investment was already paid. Then I re-invested and spent around ,000 15,000 on four mines,” says Anastassov.
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Anastassov, originally from the small town of Veles in northern Macedonia, now lives in Skopje, the capital. For a country with an average salary of less than ዩ 500 a month, many young Macedonians – such as Anastassov – are looking for the crypto world as an opportunity to earn more than their full-time job.
Others, such as Scopje-based fitness trainer Stefan Angelovsky, have left their jobs to sell cryptocurrencies full-time. Angielovsky, 34, is tired of working for a low-paying job and has been working as a cryptocurrency for the past few years. When you wake up every morning, you go to the Crypto Stock Market with apps like Binance or Coinbase to see what’s happening.
“Crypto trading is what I do all day, every day,” he told ZDNet. Angelovsky says he did not see much success last year, but now says he will make enough money through the crypto business to quit his full-time job.
Like the rest of the world, cryptocurrency is sweeping the Balkans. Serbia, for example, was one of the few countries in the world that introduced laws on cryptocurrencies in June last year, recognizing virtual currencies that could buy, sell, transfer and exchange.
Plus, they can pay taxes. In Serbia, cryptocurrencies are taxed at a rate of 15% and are considered capital gains.
Elsewhere in the region, shops and retail chains began accepting payments in cryptocurrencies. Croatia’s largest retail chain consolidation is one of the first to do so, appealing to young and tech-savvy consumers to take the next step with unconventional payment methods.
“Although this payment method is still in its infancy in Croatia, we register crypto payments almost every day at our Konzum online store.
Although crypto exchanges and ATMs are becoming the norm in the Balkans, most governments in the region still do not have a clear regulatory framework to control their use.
Bosnia-based entrepreneur Vedad Mesanovich believes that regulators in the Balkans will only see digital currencies, as opposed to opportunities that will encourage them to grow in the economy and attract entrepreneurs and investors to the region.
New rules could help change that, he told ZDNet, but added that countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina “will take some time” before they commit themselves to crypto-compliance. State laws in these countries do not recognize cryptocurrency assets, which means that those who have invested in trade or mining are unable to make a living.
Mesanovic believes that defining clear rules will encourage the development of new payment systems and business models in the country with blockchain. “This will enable Bosnia and Herzegovina to use modern technologies and prosper economically in the coming years,” he said.
There is no denying that cryptocurrencies are a big business. Companies are looking for blockchain to encourage a new generation of digital payment services, and the sector can teach valuable skills in code, business and marketing.
See: Why does cryptocurrency matter? A business case to look at
Still, the current crypto market remains a wild thing, at least because the market is so volatile. Bitcoin lost half of its value in January after hitting a record high in November 2021, sweeping hundreds of billions of dollars off the crypto market. Ethereum, Cardano and other coins have seen similar volatility.
Jobs can also be affected. Northern Macedonia is already suffering from severe cerebral palsy, with many highly skilled workers migrating to live and work abroad. According to the latest census, more than 600,000 people have fled the country over the past two decades.
Choosing young people to work or trade in mines is a risk that will put pressure on local companies and create a shortage of workers.
“We already have a shortage of manpower, and this could put an additional burden on local companies,” Scorpio-based economist Irena Kakova told Zednet. “Some young people in the country are making good money from crypto and are not motivated to look for work.”
Crypto mining also has a significant environmental impact. The Balkans are already facing a severe energy crisis, with rising utility prices rising in the region. In January, Kosovo officials banned all crypto-mining activities in a bid to alleviate the country’s energy crisis. Arvin Campbell, vice president of the Serbian Bitcoin Association, described the impact of crypto mining as a “major e-hazard.”
Examples from China and elsewhere suggest that these developments could force authorities to step down on crypto miners and traders.
Despite the dangers, Angelovsky remains hopeless. “My goal is to make enough money to earn interest,” he said. “Then I can relax more about my business.”