What a difference a year makes or maybe not? The global elite has departed the confab in Davos, jetting away to parts unknown until the next summit. With respect to cryptocurrencies, the opinions expressed at this year’s event were muted, at best. One need only remember that last year at this time Bitcoin was at $12,000 plus. Investors had leapt into the crypto space with little due diligence or regard for risk, driving prices of Bitcoin and its altcoin brethren to never-before-seen heights. It was the talk of the town, so to speak, but a year has passed, and valuations have plummeted.
What have our illustrious scions of the global brain trust said this year about cryptos? The enthusiasm has waned, but a few did speak their minds when asked. The views expressed, however, were not new news. In point of fact, the speakers appeared to pull out their journals from two years back to rehash common cryptocurrency themes of yore.
There was, of course, the overtly negative type that predicted the demise of the entire ecosphere. Jeff Schumacher, founder of BCG Digital Ventures, during a CNBC panel discussion, pontificated:
I do believe it will go to zero. I think it’s a great technology, but I don’t believe it’s a currency. It’s not based on anything.
A view from the central banking sector can from Huw van Steenis, the adviser to Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England. On a Tuesday interview with Bloomberg Television, he made it sound as if he could not be bothered with cryptos. He had more important priorities with the Bank of England:
I’m not so worried about cryptocurrencies. 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.
Next up was Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, a company whose only claim to fame is that it was willing to arbitrage the risk of Internet payments when bankers chose not to. Entirely focused on the payment aspect of cryptos, he said that he and his company are “not seeing many retailers at all accept any of the cryptocurrencies.” Payment companies took decades to achieve the current level of Bitcoin penetration, but the jury is still out for the future. The issue of slow processing times must be addressed, and according to industry buzz, a number of enhancements will do just that, and a few newer offerings do have processing rates that rival PayPal and major payment associations.
Lastly, we heard from Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Circle, the Goldman Sachs-backed payments and tech company. Goldman is no dummy. They do see the potential of blockchain developments and how related coin systems will evolve. Allaire noted:
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.
Allaire went on to add:
We’re huge proponents of central-bank digital currency, and we believed in that for a very long time. Our view is that the creation of cryptocurrencies that are based on central bank money is happening in the private-sector first.
Cryptocurrencies – The future or a dinosaurian idea bent on extinction? Bitcoin prices hover just below $3,600, and the market cap of all coin programs is roughly $118.5 billion – double that figure to included exchanges, miners, and support companies – quite a considerable enterprise. The brain trust at Davos, however, may be waiting for another year to pass before expressing what they really think, but Mr. Allaire at least appears to be looking forward, while the other poor fellows seem focused on the rearview mirror.