5 big name executives that think cryptocurrency is the future
Twitter, PayPal, Citigroup, Overstock.com, Deutsche bank bosses bet big on crypto, but in different ways.
Twitter and Square Payments CEO Jack Dorsey has been raising eyebrows lately with his outlandishly bullish predictions for cryptocurrency, and bitcoin in particular. His take might be one of the most enthusiastic, but plenty of CEOs and executives are betting big on bitcoin and other cryptocurrency in different ways.
1. Jack Dorsey – Twitter, Square CEO
"The world ultimately will have a single currency, the internet will have a single currency. I personally believe that it will be bitcoin." - Jack Dorsey in an interview with The Times.
Well then. It doesn't get much more bullish than that. But to be fair, as CEO of the Square payment company he has a vested interest in seeing cryptocurrencies, and bitcoin in particular, succeed.
It's also worth noting that in the same interview he declined to take any questions about Twitter, and if there's one topic that can sidetrack interviews these days it might be bitcoin.
2. Peter Thiel – PayPal co-founder
"I would be long bitcoin, and neutral to skeptical of just about everything else at this point with a few possible exceptions." - Peter Thiel, speaking at the New York Economic Club.
Venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel spoke lovingly of bitcoin as digital gold, describing the quest for wealth as the "bubble that never pops" while speaking at the Economic Club of New York. He naturally has a vested interest, estimated to be in the US$15 to $20 million range, in its success.
In the same presentation he described himself as being keen on "charismatic" technologies like bitcoin, naming artificial intelligence as a dull and uninteresting counterpoint, praised US president Donald Trump and complained about being bullied for his political views by the Silicon Valley crowd, explaining that it's what drove him to Los Angeles instead.
3. Michael Corbat – Citigroup CEO
"You won’t hear us be dismissive in terms of the nascent technology because it’s real and there is something there." - Michael Dorsey, Bloomberg Interview
Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat reckons that cryptocurrencies are inevitably the way of the future, although he sees it taking the form of state-sponsored digital currencies. Citigroup has reportedly been trialling their own digital currency, internally dubbed Citicoin in line with the usual crypto naming conventions, but probably doesn't see a whole lot in the future of bitcoin.
On the other hand, Citigroup chief economist Willem Buiter has described bitcoin as an "utter failure" and thinks its days are numbered.
"The cyber boys... they believe that this is something that can just work on its own and allow a seamless web of costless transactions around the world. Forget it," he said at the Davos economic forum.
On the other other hand, Buiter is dismissively describing exactly what a mature decentralised currency can do. It's doing the impossible, which is exactly why people are so excited by it.
4. Patrick Byrne – Overstock.com CEO
"It’s about time the world switches to real money. Either gold or bitcoin." - Patrick Byrne, on FoxBusiness.
Overstock was among the first major online retails to accept bitcoin, and it still does. Although there are signs that he's now expanding his view beyond bitcoin and looking for its next successor, which he reckons he might have found in a unknown and unusual cryptocurrency called Ravencoin.
There's a lot of reasonable concern about how cryptocurrency isn't like other assets, in that its value can actually drop to zero. But as Byrne accurately pointed out, the world's history is littered with now-worthless fiat currencies, and on the historical scale every single fiat currency is destined to hit zero at some point.
That the value of bitcoin is beyond any outside influence (even though it's most definitely not) seems to underpin Byrne's confidence in the future of the coin.
5. Peter Hooper – Deutsche Bank chief economist
"Ultimately, we’re going to have to find a way to accommodate and regulate [bitcoin]." - Peter Hooper, to Bloomberg.
Bitcoin is here to stay, agreed Deutsche Bank economists. "The whole idea has a potential future, but it could be better designed," said Peter Hooper.
It's not the most ringing endorsement, but it does suggest that Deutsche Bank sees an inevitable future in cryptocurrencies as a technology in general. It's an echo of Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan's previous views that cash will be extinct a decade from now.
Physical money is expensive and inefficient, and when you factor in its creation and handling costs inevitably worth a little bit less than its face value in the grand scheme of things, it's argued. Much like Citigroup, Deutsche Bank is well aware of the benefits of distributed ledger technology in handling money, but for fairly obvious reasons isn't too keen on public cryptocurrencies.
The balanced consensus might be that decentralised public cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, and centralised bank-backed cryptocurrencies will be coexisting in the future.
But there's no clear consensus, and there are still no bullet proof predictions anywhere. Some blockchain-focused investors have argued that it's worth buying bitcoin simply because there's a higher than 0% chance of it being worth a fortune in the future, while other experienced investors like Willem Buiter wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole.
To compound the difficulty of effectively predicting cryptocurrency's future, some countries like Russia have their own reasons to push public decentralised cryptocurrencies to the front of the world economy.
There's only one way to be 100% certain. Take aboard the opinions you agree with, ignore the ones you don't and then sit back with complete confidence.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VEN, XLM, BTC, NANO