Bitcoiners in Europe Reflect on Economic Shocks as Coronavirus Spreads

With assets from oil barrels to bitcoin being pulverized by the coronavirus slowdown, people worldwide are reevaluating their plans for crypto gatherings, especially in geographies where anti-COVID-19 measures are increasingly serious.

In Milan, Italy, which was officially placed on lockdown by the Italian government on Sunday, bitcoin entrepreneur and meetup organizer Mir Liponi is facing more pressing concerns than her hobbyist meetup of 1,800 members. Weddings and funerals are forbidden, she told CoinDesk. Most grocery shopping is done online, which leads to delayed deliveries.

“Authorities told us we will always have food and drugs,” she said. “That has been true for the last 18 days. … But still people are scared. Some are breaking into shops.”

Meanwhile, veteran bitcoiner and cypherpunk icon Amir Taaki, known for creating Dark Wallet and fighting ISIS in Syria, is still hoping to open a cypherpunk academy in Barcelona later this year, after the virus quarantine policies end.

“People are still severely underestimating the impact this thing [coronavirus] is going to have. People are home a lot more, so using credit cards a lot more,” Taaki said in a phone interview from his quarantine in a small Spanish village. “Governments are going to give themselves more powers that they can use for other purposes.”

In the meantime, he’s working from home with the privacy tech startup Nym and, separately, with a small band of roughly 10 people to develop tools for “pools of liquidity in different jurisdictions.”

“What’s the point in building an ecosystem that centers around U.S. banks and Chinese corporations, then when the economy has a meltdown they pull out anyway? It’s all backwards,” Taaki said.

In Milan, Liponi said the psychological aspect of quarantine already feels restrictive. People are only allowed to drive within the city for crucial work tasks, health care or groceries. She described the local health care system as…

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