Italian vlogger and CCO of Blockchainlab, Mir Liponi, will soon go on maternity leave for several months. Yet even while preparing for her first child throughout 2017, she also became one of the most prominent thought leaders in the European bitcoin community. Past visiting residents at Blockchainlab include Lightning Labs co-founders Elizabeth Stark, Olaoluwa Osuntokun and Joseph Poon, Monero core developer Riccardo Spagni, and Blockstack cofounder Ryan Shea, just to name a few. Liponi’s Milan Meetup group has roughly 1,368 members. She often connects people across the decentralization movement who are building up infrastructure.

Liponi also helps local businesses collaborate with international developers and blockchain experts through an organization called the BHB Network, which she co-founded with her husband Giacomo Zucco. “We try to provide them with the environment, the resources,” she told International Business Times. “In 2018...we are collaborating again with Bitcoin core developer Peter Todd on proof of marshall.” This theory could revolutionize the way digital assets are issued on the blockchain. From scaling solutions to foundational network updates, Liponi has a hand in many of the community's most important research projects. One might describe her as the Gertrude Stein of blockchain technology, the ideological godmother who helps creative people bring their ideas to life.

A lot of the conversation surrounding bitcoin these days focuses on bitcoin’s price, which CoinMarketCap estimated to be roughly $11,715 on Monday. However, another thing people often forget is bitcoin can also be used for third-party systems and bitcoin-based assets. The latter can be quite similar to Ethereum-based ERC20 tokens, which startups used to raise billions of dollars in 2017. The bitcoin equivalent is called “colored coins.”

bitcoin-2007769_640 What's next for bitcoin? Photo: Pixabay

This means the bitcoin community could mirror some of Ethereum’s diverse experimentation with less inherent risk. When the cryptocurrency issuer Tether got hacked in 2017, they wanted to reverse the transaction to reclaim nearly $31 million in stolen funds. Because they used a bitcoin-based counterparty, this move didn’t stir up the type of controversy the Ethereum community faces over proposals to fix such mistakes.  

“Rather than, as you would in Ethereum, calling everyone to reverse the transaction...no one in bitcoin had to care,” Bitcoin Core developer Peter Todd told IBT.  “My bitcoin node does not process Tether’s consensus...I’m not processing Tether transactions. I’m just distributing data. I don’t care what the data is. That’s not my problem.”  

Bitcoin is still a young asset. Many people already trust it as a basic store of value, or a conduit for investment products like bitcoin futures. Liponi is among the pioneers orchestrating research into different bitcoin-based assets. Her circle is experimenting with the wide range of values bitcoin can offer. “Of course our major focus is always cypherpunk. But many of our clients and investors are also asking us to build a solution,” Liponi said. “To make it [colored coins] in a way that doesn’t detract from the cypherpunk ideals, but at the same time is very secure and useful for clients.”

Like most prominent women on the internet, Liponi experiences quite a bit of vitriol online. Yet she boldly claims her femininity and stays opinionated on Twitter. In fact, she sees the bitcoin ethos as a key part of her perspective on motherhood. “I want in some way to explain to my daughter all the ideas behind [decentralization],” Liponi said. “One thing that’s very important for me is I want her to travel, to meet people all around, and for her to code in some way. That’s not easy to do, but...it could be very important for her to better understand what the future will be.”

Developers and technologists will certainly play a leading role in bitcoin’s future. However, don’t underestimate less technical enthusiasts contributing their soft skills to the ecosystem. Liponi will continue to be one of the top blockchain stars to watch in 2018.