It may not have grabbed the headlines this year like Davos 2018, but when a group of financiers get together, the conversation eventually lands on bitcoin.
When world leaders gathered in the small Swiss Alpine town 12 months ago, a single bitcoin
was fetching more than $12,000. Now, as this year’s annual event rolls on through Friday, bitcoin goes for about $3,500, probably indicative of the warm-to-cold interest in the nascent industry.
“While last year, people were talking about crypto and blockchain anywhere and everywhere, this year there is comparatively little discussion around it,” said Angel Versetti, the CEO of Ambrosus, a blockchain-based company specializing in supply-chain efficiencies, per news.bitcoin.com.
Enthusiasm, or lack thereof, aside, a number of leaders weighed in on the technology. On Tuesday, Huw van Steenis, the adviser to Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, said digital currencies weren’t high on his list of priorities, even though he’s working on a project for the BOE about the future of finance with a specific look at payment systems.
“I’m not so worried about cryptocurrencies,” he told Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. “They fail the basic tests of financial services, they’re not a great unit of exchange, they don’t hold value and they’re slower.”
Read: Cryptos fail basic financial tests, says adviser to BOE’s Carney
Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal
, also stressed the absence of market penetration by digital assets. Speaking to CNBC, Schulman said his company, which handles digital payments on anything from take-out food to rent, is “not seeing many retailers at all accept any of the cryptocurrencies.”
. @PayPal CEO Dan Schulman on Bitcoin: “We’re not seeing many retailers at all accept any of the cryptocurrencies.” pic.twitter.com/2Ypcp20lHj
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) January 23, 2019
However, early adopter and tech entrepreneur Jeremy Allaire was more upbeat despite the struggles the sector faced in 2018. The CEO of Circle, the Goldman Sachs-backed payments and tech company, said decentralized technology is a critical component to future of tech.
“Crypto is fundamental to the future, and so crypto computing, which is what these blockchain platforms really are, they’re open computing platforms — we need tamper-proof, resilient, decentralized infrastructure if we want society to survive the digital age,” said Allaire, also a panel participant at Davos.
And while many decentralized technology proponents are characterized as anti-government and Libertarian-leaning, the two can, and should, work in tandem, Allaire said.
“We’re huge proponents of central-bank digital currency and we believed in that for a very long time,” he said. “Our view, is that the creation of cryptocurrencies that are based on central bank money is happening in the private-sector first.”
Read: Not clear if bitcoin can keep functioning with current design, says BIS economist
As always, it wouldn’t be a finance gathering without someone predicting the best-known digital currency eventually becoming worthless.
“I do believe it will go to zero,” said Jeff Schumacher, founder of BCG Digital Ventures, during a CNBC panel discussion. “I think it’s a great technology, but I don’t believe it’s a currency. It’s not based on anything.”
Read: Important strides made by cryptocurrencies, otherwise creamed in 2018, offer hope to believers
Providing critical information for the U.S. trading day. Subscribe to MarketWatch’s free Need to Know newsletter. Sign up here.