By Natalie Lord
The debate between Roger Ver and Nouriel Roubini at the CC Forum in London recently was fraught with tension as the Believer and Naysayer went head to head, each determined to convert the other.
Roubini had opened the discussion by discounting cryptocurrencies entirely, saying he didn’t consider them to be valid currencies, that they had lost almost all of their value and that nobody used them. But Ver was prepared for this and won the audience over with a simple gesture.
He held up a Yen10,000 note and stated that equally inflation has decimated fiat currencies around the world:
“This is a 10,000 yen banknote, or about 90 dollars. Not too long ago a single yen was worth an ounce of silver, so this banknote was worth 200 thousand dollars a short time ago. Is this a store of value? This is what happens when you have a central bank with a small group of people who can print as much money as they want at any time, for any reason. But with cryptocurrencies, we know how many there are and how many there will be tomorrow and we don’t have to trust politicians and governments.”
Ver went on to add that Bitcoin Cash processes a hundred transactions per second and is used by hundreds of merchants all over the world.
The debate then turned to how cryptocurrencies might react in times of economic crisis like Brexit. Roubini stated that he didn’t think cryptocurrencies would benefit.
“Let’s take as an example Argentina, where several times there has been hyperinflation and people have continued to use the Peso. If they wanted to use an alternative they could use the US dollar. Why would you want to use cryptocurrencies that have lost 95% of their value in one year?”
He adds that he doesn’t see any evidence that cryptocurrencies are being used, not even in countries like Argentina or Venezuela; yet it’s a known fact that currencies like Bitcoin are increasingly popular and have reached new trading highs on platforms like Localbitcoins.
Ver addresses Roubini’s point, saying: “If you take the data of 2017, prices have decreased a bit, but look at 4 years ago, 6 years ago, 10 years ago. It’s amazing how many people are using these currencies, how much bigger is the market cap today. It’s too simplistic if you compare it to the highest peak. Look at one year earlier. If you want to ignore cryptocurrencies it’s fine, it will be worse for you, not for all the people in the world”.
But Roubini refused to concede on any point, and moved to insinuate that cryptocurrencies are used by casinos, gambling and Ponzi schemes. He said it is inconceivable that money can be sent from one side of the world to the other without an email, limits or control, and that governments have good reason to stop this. He further implied that cryptocurrencies are used by “criminals, terrorists and tax evaders.”
“No government in the world can allow criminals, terrorists, tax evaders, crooks to move money … without AML and without KYC … They’re going to crack down on you.”
The debate continued to heat up with tensions rising as each party defended their position and uncompromising beliefs. Both sides presented thought-provoking points and legitimate arguments and influenced the audience in various ways.
So will cryptocurrencies fail or succeed? Whatever the answer, it’ll be interesting to see how the arguments of Ver and Roubini factor into the result.