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Out of the Abacus Age Past: Greece Now Going Digital Fast

ATHENS – The Internet may be slow and expensive in Greece but the New Democracy government is speeding the public sector away from using piles of papers and digital transactions are soaring in the private sector too.

There will be nearly 1 billion of them by the end of 2022 compared to only 8.8 million in all of 2018, the year before the Conservatives took power, Digital Governance Minister Kyriakos Pierrakis said.

The e-Governance minister was speaking at the 24th Infocom World 2022 conference, which was held in Athens on Nov. 29-30 and said it means a person can avoid waiting in lines for services 100 times a year, said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency ANA-MPA.

“We have come to realize that connectivity relating to some specific services that can be catalytic is required a lot more in the post-COVD-19 era,” he said, although the pandemic hasn’t gone away yet.

He said that’s being bolstered by foreign tech giants opening data centers and cloud servers in Athens and will increase the country’s connectivity even more as digital nomads who are being lured depend on it.

This “digital puzzle,” as he called it, “changed rapidly over a rather short amount of time, with the public sector changing, digital connectivity changing, and digital nomads arriving in the country.”

“I think it’s fair to say that it hasn’t happened before in this industry or in the related industries that make up what we call ‘digital’” in Greece, he said, adding that home Internet access would be improved, with 1.15 million optic fiber lines already installed.

Another innovation, he said, is the Phaistos network created by 25 percent of the capital gained by Greece’s auctioning of the broadband frequency spectrum, which will also see investments in 5G technology.

In July, The new application ‘Gov.gr Wallet’ providing a virtual wallet on mobile phones began, a downloaded mobile app replacing carrying a police ID or a driver’s license in physical form, allowing faster transactions through a secure system calling for digital confirmation through a QR code.

Digital Governance Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis said it was set up through the general public administration gov.gr platform’s internal structure and the use tax (TaxisNet) or web banking codes. Text messages (SMSs) will confirm every document issued, he said.

There was also a plan to put in place a system for banks and telecom providers and agencies that require the user to show an ID. “A digital trace will be created instead of copies of one’s ID, turning into digital proof, something that has been a burden to provide in physical form,” he said.

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