Russia is so hip to cryptocurrency that it now has a “bitcoin anxiety hotline.”
Moscow’s Blockchain Fund is a crypto investment firm that manages its customers’ digital assets. Naturally, the aim is to turn money into more money, but that’s not an easy proposition these days. Sure, bitcoin reached an all-time high of more than $19,000 just two months ago, but it lost more than two-thirds of its value since then. The collective mood among crypto investors is not a bright one lately.
For being such an abstract construct, cryptocurrency prices can have major implications for those holding these assets. Speculators rejoice as the price soars; they can take a vacation or buy something nice. But things get dark when the price crashes.
The over-invested lose a significant portion of their net worth. Anecdotes abound of cryptocurrency losses breaking up marriages. When the market crashes hard (as it did last month), the number for the Suicide Prevention Hotline appears in relevant crypto subreddits. Simply put, people freak out when they lose money, and bitcoin has been a loser lately.
That panic and anxiety has to go somewhere, so the Blockchain Fund opened up the phone lines to let people vent. Psychologist Elena Pikhovkina is one of the staff working these phones, and she told Russian publication Life News that “some people are in a panic, they don’t understand what is happening.” She listens to people’s stories and gives them advice on how to calm down and recover. “It is very important that a person does not do anything stupid,” she said. She probably means suicide.
It makes sense that this first-of-a-kind service should come from Russia. In 2014, the ruble collapsed against the US dollar and the euro—Russians watched their national currency lose some 80% of its value, and they weathered all the challenges associated with that. Now that cryptocurrency presents an entirely new category of financial worry, Russia’s Blockchain Fund is ready to help people find some relief.