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Crypto Under Corona: From Venezuela to Liberland

For nearly two years I traveled around the world and wrote about the subcultures of blockchain – from Bali to Budapest, from Serbia to Switzerland. I planned to continue the journey. I imagined I’d be traveling to far-flung places this summer, reporting on global blockchain projects for CoinDesk.

Then came COVID-19. Since the word “travel” is now a glum anachronism – maybe our grandkids will be able to experience this thing they call “travel” – like everyone else I’m holed up in an apartment, staring at screens. But I was curious. How is the global crypto community, or at least the community that I know, handling the pandemic? How has the coronavirus impacted their daily lives, their projects, their outlook on blockchain? So I checked in with a few of my old crypto friends to get a bit of a pulse. 

Of course, this is not meant to be an exhaustive, scientific survey of global themes – (good luck with that) – but it does give a window into some voices that are rarely heard, and a glimpse of everyday life from the wider blockchain world. A few themes emerge. The biggest: In many ways blockchain projects are faring better during CV19, and are more optimistic, than the non-blockchain world. Many people in the space are simply wired for this kind of thing. “Crypto has a bunch of semi-Asperger-ey people,” said one blockchain entrepreneur. “They’re loving this. They’re loving the excuse to not leave the house.”

Or to be more charitable, the blockchain space is a mix of idealists, dreamers, builders, risk takers and many who were already expecting the collapse of civilization. Blockchain has already survived scare after scare, crash after crash. So who’s afraid of a global pandemic? 

Budapest, Hungary 

When I first met Barnabás Debreczeni at a Hungarian blockchain conference in the summer of 2018, he told me that his journey to crypto began with zombies. When he and his buddies prepared for a “zombie invasion” – he uses the word zombie...

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