By Natalie Lord
Cryptocurrencies are a bit like Brexit: both have staunch followers who are firmly in one camp or the other. With Brexit, you have the Leavers and the Remainers and never the two shall agree, or compromise, it would appear. With cryptocurrencies there are the Believers and the Naysayers.
At the CC Forum cryptocurrency conference in London recently, two of the leaders of each camp sat opposite one another in discussion on the topic of whether cryptocurrencies would fail or succeed. It made for interesting and entertaining conversation.
Roger Ver, Executive Chairman of Bitcoin.com, lives his life by cryptocurrency, predominately Bitcoin. He was an early investor in Bitcoin and Bitcoin-related startups and is often referred to as “Bitcoin Jesus” for his devotion to and promotion of Bitcoin.
Ver was born and raised in Silicon Valley but ended up serving 10 months in prison when he was caught for selling explosives on eBay. He moved to Japan in 2005 and renounced his United States citizenship in 2014.
He began investing in Bitcoin in 2011 and went on to serve as the CEO of Bitcoin before transitioning to Executive Chairman in August 2019. Ver has donated more than US$1 million worth of Bitcoin to the Foundation for Economic Education.
Nouriel Roubini is an American economist and professor who has earned the nickname Dr Doom for his cautious predictions historically. He teaches at New York University’s Stern School of Business and is the Chairman of Roubini Macro Associates, which is an economic consultancy firm.
Roubini studied political economics at Bocconi University in Milan and has a doctorate in International Economics from Harvard University. He was an academic at Yale and a visiting researcher/advisor at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Federal Reserve, World Bank and Bank of Israel. He was a Senior Economist for the Council of Economic Advisors under President Bill Clinton’s administration and later moved to the United States Treasury Department as a Senior Adviser to Timothy Geithner, who became Treasury Secretary in 2009.
The debate at the conference started with Ver offering Roubini some free Bitcoin. Roubini refused saying he did not consider cryptocurrencies to be valid currencies. He highlighted the relatively small number of users worldwide and the volatility that has impacted cryptocurrencies.
“The value of all financial assets worldwide is 8 trillion, so 2 million is a tiny percentage. In addition, bitcoin has lost 60% of its value since its peak, and the price of Bitcoin Cash has been collapsing during the last 12 months, so it’s a joke. The problem is not only volatility but also the fact that cryptocurrencies are not payment methods. Nobody uses them.”
Ver counters this with a very effective example. We find out what that was next week in Part 2.