The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an annual event held in the Swiss Alps where top business leaders, celebrities, international political leaders, journalists, and economists discuss the most pressing issues facing the world for up to four days. Last year in Davos, people were discussing crypto and blockchain anywhere and everywhere, but this year there is comparatively little talk around it. 12 months back, Bitcoin was over 12,000 dollars, now it is less than 4000 dollars, which is an indication as to why there is a lack of enthusiasm surrounding crypto this year. This year, crypto turned out to be a punching bag. More specifically, most attendees did not share a positive outlook for the industry.
Dan Schulman, Paypal CEO
Dan Schulman stressed the absence of market penetration by digital assets such as Bitcoin. Speaking to CNBC, Schulman said Paypal, which handles digital payments on anything from rent to take-out food, is “not seeing many retailers at all accept any of the cryptocurrencies.” Even though there were huge improvements in crypto infrastructure over the last year. Dan shared his enthusiasm with blockchain noting that crypto is “more of a rewards system for implementing blockchain”, and doesn’t see the prospect of cryptocurrencies acting as a store of value. But this is not to say Paypal is anti-crypto. Recently, they announced a feature where the users of Coinbase exchange can withdraw funds immediately to their account with no fee. Currently, users can withdraw funds to their bank accounts but it takes days. The new feature will speed up things. Currently, only users in the US will have access to this feature, but in 2019, a global rollout is expected.
Huw Van Steenis
A senior adviser to the Bank of England has stated that cryptocurrencies are not high on his list of concerns as they fail fundamental financial tests. In an interview given to Bloomberg Huw Van Steenis, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s senior adviser added that he is ‘not so worried about cryptocurrencies’. A previous Morgan Stanley employee, Van Steenis is currently working on a review for Bank of England on the future of finance and fintech. He further went on to say, “They’re not a great unit of exchange, they don’t hold value, and they’re slower”, which shows a clear lack of understanding about crypto and many have come forward and debunked this claim. Crypto in any sense is faster than SWIFT which takes days to make international transfers. Card transactions seem instant from the outside but they are quite slow. Visa and MasterCard take days to remit money to the account of the merchant. For many in countries with hyperinflation cryptocurrencies are the only store of value they have, and nowadays one can purchase almost everything with crypto making them a perfect medium of exchange. It is pretty clear why central and commercial banks are not delighted with decentralized forms of finance. Giving away financial control to the masses takes it away from them, along with their big bonuses and fat profits, and those are the precise reasons why some are die-hard crypto fans.
Bitcoin will plunge to $0
Technology investor and entrepreneur Jeff Schumacher took to a CNBC-hosted panel to bash the blockchain-based digital asset. Jeff Schumacher is the founder of BCG Digital Ventures, a tech incubator, and corporate investment group. He, according to CNBC, claimed that the flagship cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, could capitulate to a value of zero eventually. Speaking to global leaders, a crowd of economists, notable investors, and corporate heads, Schumacher said that he “believes it will go to zero”. Adding to that statement, he explained that the technology behind Bitcoin, blockchain, is “great”. But, he went on to explain that it should not be applied to currencies stressing the point that there is no underlying value to it. Like many traditionalists who are the beneficiaries of current centralized systems, Schumacher fails to see the value that an immutable, decentralized, cross-border, rapid mode of money could bring to the global economy.
The fact that there are still talks going on about crypto in Davos is a sign that the traditional financial world is aware of the danger it poses to them. Many see it as a danger while others feel it is the future and as an opportunity to fix the problems of the current system.
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