iPad

How the iPad is helping save Greece

In the midst of a stormy economic crisis, Greece was able to save $140 billion in debt with the help of the Apple iPad and some great software.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/PeskyMonkey

Okay, let me be clear about one thing -- the iPad isn't really saving Greece. People are saving Greece. But, the iPad is helping them overcome big obstacles and move a lot faster than they would have ever been able to otherwise.

As I'm sure you've heard, Greece is in the midst of an apocalyptic economic crisis and there are plenty of doubters who don't see how the country will turn itself around any time soon. But, that doesn't mean people aren't still trying. For those who are working on finding a light at the end of the tunnel in Greece, they're getting an unexpected assist from the Apple iPad, according to a new report from Fortune Magazine.

The report explains that financial services wizard Bob Apfel helped Greece restructure its debt in April, reducing the total debt from $270 billion to $130 billion.

Apfel told Fortune, "It was the largest financial transaction in the history of the world, and we couldn't have done it without the iPad."

Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt explained how Apfel bought 100 iPads and used them to help facilitate the deal:

"Greece, as you may recall, was facing bankruptcy this spring, unable to make good on debts worth, on paper, more than $270 billion. In a series of complex restructuring transactions, the country's Finance Ministry had offered to settle for a fraction of the bonds' paper value. But getting roughly 100,000 bondholders scattered around the globe -- from Russia to South Africa to Kazakhstan -- to sign off on the deal on a tight deadline was going to be a logistical nightmare... The Apple tablets, equipped with a custom-made debt-restructuring app, were handed out to the leadership team, including representatives from the Finance Ministry, the Hellenic Exchange (the Greek equivalent of the NYSE), the Bank of Greece (their version of the Federal Reserve) and the three external banks that managed the deal, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Lazard. The idea was to give the participants a rich set of analytic tools and real-time, secure connections to both the global clearing systems and the back offices of banks around the world."

In the end, it worked and it saved Greece $140 billion. Greece is far from being out of the water yet, but this is a great example of people using technology to streamline difficult work and make a difference.

Of course, it's not just the iPad that made it happen. The iPad was just a super-friendly machine that any of the bankers involved could figure out how to use. However, the debt restructuring app and the powerful backend banking platform had a lot to do with pulling this off.

"Split-second decisions were made that couldn't have been made without the data platform," Apfel said.

IT professionals should take heart over this. Last week, I talked about how the combination of the iPad and the cloud were transforming IT. Well, this Greece story is an example of how there's still very important work for IT to do -- building apps and data platforms in this case -- even when the only thing users have in their hands is an iPad.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

209 comments
mrhassell
mrhassell

I see you bought some Apple Shares and wanted to boost the profile of the company.

steelehawke
steelehawke

The same thing could have been done by giving all those folks the software they needed on any number of platforms. It was the hard work and collaboration efforts by the individuals involved and not the freaking iPad. The article heading is extremely misleading!!!

stiingya
stiingya

wonder if that's due to the fact that the editor in cheif has predominantly gotten his @$$ handed to him... :)

ricardoogsequeira
ricardoogsequeira

I understand product placement... I understand fanboyism. But if I follow (I know I shouldn't) the logic in this 'article', then Excel has saved quadrillions a year. Or probably is responsible for speending gazzillions a year, because governments and companies have made their budgets there. If I follow the logic, then if access google in my ipad, my ipad has the most powerful search engine in the world - because I accessed it. A sleazy calculator app that has labels with 'Debt' has 'saved' 140 billion?? Really? The only 'news' here is that someone made an interface to dumb down data that was produced by a real data-mining system and then it was easy for fat bankers to play with it along with tea and play around with the fate of a country (no, I'm not greek, I'm portuguese... we're next - v1.1 of this app will say 'Portuguese Debt').

ggouvea
ggouvea

In time: In a country already devasteted by economic losses, shouldnt it be better to make a solution based on cheaper tablet devices? We all know there are cheapest solution to the expensive iPad... How much would it be saved if a "regular" tablet device were adopted? *Just to think about it...

lynxman
lynxman

Yes, but better if bankers had not helped fiddle the books to get them in the EU in the first place............google "Secret deal with Goldman Sachs"

Trentski
Trentski

I just had to laugh at this article, what a fool iPads hamper progress not improve it, try working in IT and then you will realise Haha, classic

hurricane
hurricane

I wasn't aware that John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John needed saving?

sunnykaymaheo@hotmail.com
sunnykaymaheo@hotmail.com

The article is like, the kingdom was lost for want of a horse shoe - or gained because of the iPad. I'd like to own one someday, although I'm not in a hurry. I like to believe and do hope Greece has a part of its debt forgiven. Greece will awaken once again to its past glory,

jjstone
jjstone

There are certainly some advantage to splurging on expensive IPads for the people in the ministry so that they can be more productive and collaborate better. Especially, since laptops are too heavy and cannot run these customized apps (the developers must have forgotten about ancient PC's and laptops designed and built in the predawn of the IPad). But please, showing a guy on a yacht "saving" Greece from his IPad. That is gimmicky and does no credit to Tech Republic. The real story here was the back-end system and we shall not hear about it in this article. Too bad. I would like to hear the end-to-end story that INCLUDED the IPAD, not the story that HARALDED the IPAD as the savior of a nation.

Blaszta
Blaszta

"The idea was to give the participants a rich set of analytic tools and real-time, secure connections to both the global clearing systems and the back offices of banks around the world." It can be achieved using.... a website + SSL (https)! No need to waste money on iPad! Geez.. they have financial trouble and spend money on something that they already have! What a great way to solve an issue!

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

When I saw the title I knew this was a Jason Hiner article. Wow, now I know why Greece is in such horrible finacial straights. They were waiting for iPads. Not to be argumentative Jason, but, that means it's Apples fault...right?

resolveaustralia
resolveaustralia

reading this article = 3 minutes of my life I will never get back. As a Greek I find this insulting,marketspeak article worrying. If $140b investment was decided upon by a simple Ipad calculation, no wonder the financial world is in such a mess and us with it.

tpopoff
tpopoff

This is the worst piece of crap article I have read all month. For being the Editor in Grief of TechRepublic I expect substantially better, of course there was probably a free iPad in it for creating this garbage.

JJFitz
JJFitz

The thirteen American colonies, as you may recall, were unable to gain fair representation in the government of Great Britain. As a result of a series of complex negotiations, the colonies chose Thomas Jefferson to compose a draft of a "Declaration of Independence". Of course, this document had to be ratified and properly signed by representatives from each of the colonies. Getting roughly 56 delegates scattered among the colonies to sign off on the deal on a tight deadline was going to be a logistical nightmare. Horses and carriages, equipped with a custom-made seating for human transport, were used to assemble all of the delegates in one place. The idea was to give the participants a means to travel a long distance in relative comfort. John Adams was quoted as saying, "We would not have a Declaration of Independence without those horses." The dimutive James Madison vehemently disagreed, putting all the credit on the carriages. It came as no surprise that John Hancock, well known for his gigantic signature, disagreed with both Adams and Madison, arguing that it was the pen that really sealed the deal. It's too bad no one thought of iPads. :)

denbo68
denbo68

It takes a certain lack of character to use the very serious crisis in Greece as as the backdrop for an iPad advertisement.

preferred user
preferred user

That being said what was the iPads contribution to the big swindle and meltdown in the US in 2008-2009 ?.. works both ways .

ggouvea
ggouvea

Seams like a marketing article... Technet used to be better than this...

ggouvea
ggouvea

Are the writer an Apple lover, or an Aple shareholder?

stiingya
stiingya

I'm sure it's very true that the way the ipad was used to market the dept restructuring information was a great "gimmick" that made all the people involved feel extra special and more likely go along with the deal. So for sure good marketing idea. But lets not pretend that a link to a website with very similar and easy to use software wouldn't have accomplished the same purpose. People at this level of decision making are quite capable of navigating software without having to resort to using finger slides! (or they pay someone to do it for them) And a link to a website would have saved the cost of all those ipads to an already dept ridden society. Stupid... (I see now that Greece itself didn't pay for the ipads, but someone in the middle of all this dept did have to pay for them. And considering everyone who needed to make a decision on this would have obviously had numerous ways to access the information on a website, it still was an obnoxious waste of money. It plays out as catering to some bankers/investors vanity with a cool technology gift. When at this point in the crisis they shouldn't have to be dazzled into making a sane financial decision.

askmelea
askmelea

I guess it just depends on your perspective.

Galdang
Galdang

well i guess the comments says it all............. for an "Editor in Chief" this must be humiliating to see. maybe some more careful thinking BEFORE publishing could help. only my 2c

yaba_daba_do
yaba_daba_do

Ah, your picture selection says it all. Too many lazy countrymen lounging on their patios enjoying early retirement. A little work may help save Greece

Richaz
Richaz

With Innotabs(4yrs+) the Bankers would really have been able to learned how to use them quickly. That debt could be even lower.

panageas
panageas

This is redicoulus about i-Pad saving Greece... Only Greeks will save Greece from the loan sharks bankers. Try something else to promote the i-Pad

sperry532
sperry532

I see the Apple-haters are in full voice today. It's simply an article about how a particular technology was used to solve a much-needed restructuring problem. If the article had been about them using a different tablet for the purpose, the anti-Apple crowd would be cheering instead of blathering on about wasting money. Get over it!

ds
ds

The article is absurd and a total waste of time to read. The iPad is an interesting device but not the salvation of the world (starting with Greece) by any means, as the title implies. Seriously, any PC, laptop or must of the same price competing brands, could have perform and do exactly the same thing and maybe better !

g_h
g_h

This is not an analysis, it's An Apple ad, masquerading as editorial content. TechRepublic can and should do better.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I thought I'd chime in with a quick note that my point in writing this article was to take this idea a step beyond the original Fortune article and show that the magic that made this transaction happen so quickly was NOT just about the iPad. The title of the article was meant to draw you into the story, but I was ultimately trying to make the point that it took a lot more than just an iPad to make this happen. The conclusion is that even if the whole word was using iPads (which is obviously never going to happen) there will still be plenty of room for IT professionals who are building great apps and data platforms like the ones mentioned in this article. The story is certainly not about propping up the iPad. The title was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I was poking a stick at the idea that the iPad could save a country. That said, the suggestion that I could have dug a little deeper and written more about the data platform behind this project is a fair criticism. We'll work on doing a better job next time and trying to bring you useful insights that can help you in your work. That's our mission.

garyleroy
garyleroy

"The ipad that saved the world..." I knew it was going to be a ridiculous story just from the headline, and it was all I expected. Do-nothings that manipulate finances are the ones RESPONSIBLE for the economic disaster that most of the world is in. If all those people did some useful work that was of any benefit to anything other than their portfolio, there wouldn't be an economic crisis...there are too many parasites trying to find some manipulative way to profit off of the work done by the relatively few that actually work for a living, without actually having to do anything useful themselves. I know; why don't we all just waste money on ipads and then sit there all day shuffling information around; then we can all see just how productive and useful these wastrels are, as we starve or die of exposure.

dhearne
dhearne

There is no business function available on an iPad that has not been available on a laptop for the last 20 years. It is not surprising that the iPads were delivered to "the leadership" and then credited with solving all problems, despite the fact that "the leadership" did very little of the actual work involved. This is common everywhere. Executive tote around their iPads and have competitions with other executives over who has the coolest home-grown apps. Then they sit down for a meeting and proceed to use their iPad to play games.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

Making x cheaper won't resolve anything if worker wages continue to be depressed. http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/01/vicious-cycle-stagnant-wages More interestingly, and with graphs: http://www.realitybase.org/journal/2009/3/10/the-american-dream-died-in-february-1973.html http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2011/03/25/unpaid-jobs-the-new-normal/ Plenty of articles that state how people are spending less and people are the backbone to the economy... and yet not wondering why... Anyhow, I'm not talking about some FOX news fluffpiece about insta-millionaires buying houses and cars "off the shelves" created by Facebook's IPO (at least before its value predictably dropped, and why do I want to snicker right now? Probably because of FOX having a history of bending things...) http://www.foxbusiness.com/technology/2012/05/18/facebook-overnight-millionaires-start-luxurious-spending-spree/ (it's the most embarrassing article of the new century so far, but it's harder to find than other things I alluded to in other responses... so happy reading and giggling, it really is amusing... but don't worry, FOX will never tell you how much taxpayer-funded subsidy facebook gets either...) http://www.southernstudies.org/2012/02/facebooks-dubious-social-mission.html

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

They intend to collect the entire cast....

tech
tech

After all China, where the iPad is made (along with most electronics these days) is a leader in clean air... (maybe not). - - - WARNING - - - The rest of this is not really related to the article, and is simply to make people think. I can solve global warming, it isn't hard, but it is harsh. Reduce the world population by 75%, problem solved. Incidentally, that is the only way we will ever solve the problem. It is not just the use of oil, coal, and gas causing global warming. We are cutting down the rain forests (the lungs of our world) at an alarming rate. We divert the flow of water, build huge heat sinks of concrete and asphalt (cities and roads). We make all these changes and then act surprised that there is climate change. For all of our knowledge, the truth is we are mucking with things we do not understand (not really). Our world is more interconnected than most realize, far more interconnected than we, the human race are, even with "The Cloud"). If we stopped using fossil fuels today, that would not stop global warming. Stopping fossil fuels doesn't begin to address all the issues. Ever wonder why you walk into a forest and it is cooler than standing in the middle of the city? Or have you never bothered to get in touch with good old mother nature. This world can support a great diversity and huge populations of thousands of species. But a species can not alter the planet and expect things to stay the same. Most species find balance with nature, the human race doesn't we try to control nature, and for a period of time we will. Then we will fail and Mother Nature will claim back what we have taken.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Much worse has been said about me over the years based on things I've written about Microsoft, Google, Apple, Linux, etc. It just comes with the territory, especially on hot button topics. In this case, most of the comments are from Apple-haters (save for a handful of intelligent responses with legitimate criticisms). It's clear that most of the people in the comments just saw the headline, barely skimmed the article, and jumped into the forums. As I mentioned above, my main point in the article is that it was NOT just the iPad that helped pull off this project. The app and the backend data platform deserve credit as well and I wanted to make sure they got a hat tip.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

then they'd break even if we gave them all an Etch-A-Sketch, and run a surplus with a Ouija board or Magic 8 Ball. :D

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

If the article had been about a "different tablet for the purpose", the title would not have been such glaringly hyperbolic ad copy....and might have focused more on the app that allowed many bond investors to agree in real time to the size of financial bath they'd each take, if each other would, too.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

In fact, the internet emoticon for subtle is . I think it would have been helpful to refer to the Fortune article throughout, to highlight that you are in fact not repeating it, but counterpointing your own, clearly defined objections and questions to it. As it is, it's hard to pick up on the opposition.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

it's funny how many different conflicting companies you've been accused of shilling for over the years. Edited because the forum platform won't display a tilde in the title. TR discriminates against Spanish speakers!!! :D :D :D

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

Still, to anyone who suggests "big die-off", I suggest people start acting on their own beliefs (walk their talk) before telling others what to do. It's like Al Gore telling everyone of gloom and doom but then living in a big mansion that costs 4-digit monthly bills to keep running (even snopes.com mentioned it as being true), flying in private jets, and everything else. Even when he was in Apple (computertakeback.org) he would not respond to their organization's request for information as to why Apple was far behind competing companies with "green movement". Note, Apple has caught up, but that has more to do with everyone screaming at them rather than them being responsible. Al Gore isn't on their board to force responsibility. He's there to make money for himself. It did take a village and Apple finally responded. Yes, humanity needs to find a balance and I can fathom more ethical ways of doing things. Granted, to do so would probably make Al Gore mad because he would be affected and he's better than the rest of us, or certainly acts that part.) P.S. Most people call me "Liberal" but I really am independent and base individual issues on individual merits. It's not easy but I should have gone into law school instead...

tech
tech

Other than the mention that there was an app. Where's the beef? What app(s) What was the backend? What made a mobile device (iPad or otherwise) so important to getting the job done. (Other than the here's a little something for your cooperation) I mean really, I have been offered, iDevices for closing deals many times. I mean really, you mentioned the iPad by name 23 times in 582 words. So if the article was not about the iPad why is it so prominent throughout the article? Let's face it, with very few changes it could be a iPad commercial. I even figured I had to have missed something and went back and re-read the article in near disbelief. I will be honest, I am no real fan of Apple, Microsoft or Google. But I use all of their products when and where it makes sense to do so. So I am not an 'Apple Hater', I am just sick to death of the lack of real information that I can use. I am tired of all the unicorns and fairy dust. It becomes harder everyday to get real information that has not been tainted for fear of pissing off huge companies or not getting a new iDevice and a business lunch with the company president.

tech
tech

I am not advocating killing off a huge percentage of the populace. I am simply pointing out the most of the people who are yelling about climate change don't even understand the depth and breadth of the problem. Certainly, a 'pro-life' solution would be better. You mention Al Gore, and he proves the point I was trying to make quite well. He tells us we need to cut greenhouse gasses... All the while flying in private jets,.. and 'buying carbon credits' to keep a 'small carbon footprint'. I agree, most who scream against climate change talk the talk, but they don't walk the walk. Yes, there are other ways to find balance, but man will never adopt them, because we are far to selfish, and far to 'smart' for our own good. Everyone screams about one small part of the cause for climate change, and as you pointed out, many who do don't even have their own house in order. So let's hear the more ethical ways you have fathomed.

tech
tech

start a discussion. I wanted to reply to a comment in this thread. In another comment or two it will go to the water cooler anyway, if it doesn't die out first.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

...is a box named 'discussions' with a sampling of 4 current ones. Click the button below them, marked 'start a discussion'; when you're prompted thereafter to indicate your thesis' IT-area-of-interest, select "off-topic" from the choices. You will have then started a 'Water Cooler' thread. Your present *digression* from the Apple/Greece 'product-placement' blog and posts is at least as interesting and thought-provoking as the latter.... If you build it, they will come!

tech
tech

of a way to reply to a comment at the 'Water Cooler' hence the warning. If I were I would have done so.

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