Once upon a time in Albania, a scrappy, alternative finance industry emerged to take on and eventually supplant a sclerotic, technologically-backward banking system. The lessons from its dramatic collapse remain relevant today. 

Essentially, what was initially touted as a post-communist entrepreneurial success story proved to be pyramid schemes of breathtaking proportions. Slick marketing and lofty promises turned an informal, decentralised, crime-facilitating ecosystem into a mainstream mania that sucked in multitudes of people, unchecked by feeble and fitful regulatory warnings.

Sound familiar? Cryptocurrency zealots will bridle at the insinuation that there are any parallels between the digital assets industry and the seedy world of Albanian Ponzi schemes. They will trot out their favourite mantra against “salty” critics: “Have fun staying poor.”

Even sceptics may feel the comparison is a little unfair. After all, there are…

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