Mikhail Shlyapnikov, cancer survivor turned quaint Russian farmer and cryptocurrency revolutionary, is well known within the ecosystem. He’s about as eccentric as imagined, defiantly taking on his government through the issuance of a proprietary, local money. It was a way to get out from under gouging state-backed banks. Close to half a decade later, and after a crackdown, his little hamlet is thriving as a result of tapping the digital universe to cure their monetary ills.
Russian Farmer Living the Crypto Revolution
“I don’t want to expand because it will bring obligations I’m not ready for. I’m not ready to save the world or even Russia, I want to be comfortable and I want to share this comfort with the community,” Mikhail Shlyapnikov told CNN Money. The expansion he speaks of revolves around his personal economic odyssey spurred by banking cartels and their double digit interest premiums on access to capital, Russian rubles.
Колио́ново (Kolionovo) is little over an hour by car from Moscow. That was just enough space for Mr. Shlyapnikov to hospice a cancer diagnosis. It’s a farming village, population probably around a couple dozen. It was a chance to escape city life. That was nearly a decade ago, and almost immediately the iconoclast former banker set about changing things.
Mr. Shlyapnikov explained, “I didn’t want to suffocate and be a slave of the banks. So I had to invent my own money. And I did it. I’m my own bank, government, regulator.” Indeed, around 2010 he led the charge to stop politicians entering the hamlet, insisting they prove mental fitness. Only a few years later, he launched his “kolion” to purposefully usurp the ruble.
Crypto’s Bright Russian Farming Future
Kolion in its 2014 iteration was paper. That was all it took for his arrest, as a Russian court deemed kolion illegal about a year later. Spring of last year, undeterred, Mr. Shlyapnikov seized on initial coin offering (ICO) mania, raising half a million dollars. “We now have about $2 million in kolions because its value has jumped since the ICO,” he noted. “This way we can attract real money into the business.”
The village’s crypto has 500 bitcoin backing it in reserve, almost $4 million worth. Kolions aren’t mined, and no fiat is paired with it. Instead, Kolionovoians can earn it through a concept he calls ‘plowing,’ which involves trading labor in exchange. Kolions can also be purchased with other, more established cryptos.
His vision has turned out to be fortuitous. Russian economic prospects can be seen as immediately bleak: the country faces growing sanction levies on top of sometime contracting markets. The village and its neighbors, who both are incorporating the crypto into their daily lives more and more, are effectively insulated from wild downturns. Such was not the case only a few short years ago.