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‘I’m Quite a Fan Of Government Regulation’: Interview With Yobie Benjamin

In the corridors of Davos Cointelegraph has got a chance to catch up with Yobie Benjamin, co-founder and CTO Emeritus of Token.io with the background in mainstream banking (Citigroup).

In five minutes, Benjamin shared his thoughts on regulation, huckster ICO’s and the potential of Blockchain.

Cointelegraph: We are here with Yobie Benjamin. Could you introduce yourself to our audience and tell them what you’re doing right now?

Yobie Benjamin: Hello, my name is Yobie Benjamin and I am the current CTO Emeritus of Token.io, which is a distributed ledger company which is built to support the banking industry. And if there’s a really easy way to explain it, it’s a far more modern version of SWIFT, which is the global bank system wherein money is moved.

CT: You have a bit of a different opinion on government regulations from what I understand. Could you talk a little bit about that?

YB: I am, believe it or not, quite a fan of government regulations. By background I was the former global CEO of Citigroup, I currently sit on the Federal Reserve faster payment task force. So my view on regulation is that regulation is good and regulation actually legitimizes a business. So I’m not a big fan of an uber-libertarian movement, which says that regulation is bad and we don’t need any of this, and the world is going to be perfect without any regulation.

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CT: Сryptocurrencies are hoped by some to be used to sort of disrupt the system and take everything and make it something new. Davos is not like that. And you see Blockchain all over the place in Davos. Why do you think that is?

YB: Interestingly enough, this is the first year in Davos that we have seen so many Blockchain companies. The World Economic Forum itself, if you look at the formal program, has probably about two hours of Blockchain programming. The issues that concern the World Economic Forum are far more diverse and far deeper than Blockchain itself. Blockchain is an important technology, clearly, probably, one of the most important technologies. But Blockchain also has, basically, the way I would say, has given birth to many great technologies but also many hucksters. And I think that is common knowledge in this industry, we see Blockchain companies, you know, selling things such as, unfortunately, things like prostitution. Or other types of things that are not really part and parcel of a global system and shouldn’t be a part of the global system.

I think Blockchain does a lot in terms of global trade, doing trade finance, doing things that don’t require high-velocity transactions or high-frequency transactions. But there is a lot you can do in Blockchain. Municipal governments, property titles, you know, municipal fines – all sorts of records can be put in a Blockchain. But not everything fits on the Blockchain. When I was global CTO of Citibank, we did three to nine tln dollars of transactions a day. And as you know, the Blockchain itself in its totality, given all the crypto of Bitcoin and Ethereum, don’t even come close to a trillion dollars a day.

CT: How people who are looking at a legitimate company or ICO should go about thinking through their investments, coming from your perspective? How do you spot the huckster?

YB: Look, here’s what I see about ICOs, right? Right now, an ICO happens, somebody’s come up with a great idea and then suddenly hires two developers, four developers, they write on the ERC20 protocol and they have an ICO. Essentially short-circuiting what it’s been a long formal process of an initial public offering. In a lot of ways that’s good. Because it expands access to capital. However, it doesn’t give an excuse for beginning to go and offer things to the market, that border on silly, if not criminal.

I think that if you’re looking for an ICO and you think you want to invest in an ICO  look at the team, this is a pretty standard piece of advice. But look, if they’re open to getting themselves registered. Many companies are doing ICOs, that are not afraid of the registration process. Many companies are not afraid of regulation. And fully put themselves in front of regulators and make themselves available to questions, make themselves available to criticism much like any other IPO process. I personally like ICOs. But! Given that there are probably thousands if not tens of thousands of ICOs, that are forthcoming, it’s a buyer beware market. That’s all I could say for that!

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Winklevoss Twins: Bitcoin Has Potential To Grow At Least 30-fold In 10 To 20 Years

Another Bitcoin prediction was made this week by Winklevoss twins – the famous Bitcoin billionaires. Bitcoin has “potential appreciation” of thirty to forty times its current value, Cameron Winklevoss claimed in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

At press time, the market capitalization of Bitcoin was just below $140 bln, following a huge sell-off on Tuesday, Feb. 6 which has seen the cap drop as low as $102 bln.

That would put the Winklevoss’ estimation of Bitcoin’s future market cap at over $5 trln. This number comes from a comparison to the $7 trln global gold market, which the brothers claim Bitcoin will disrupt.

According to CNBC, the Winklevoss brothers were looking at a period of 10 to 20 years in their prediction.

In response to the recent criticisms of cryptocurrencies by representatives of J.P. Morgan and the officials present at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Tyler Winklevoss argued that digital currencies will be a great instrument of machine-to-machine transactions.

“Cryptocurrencies aren’t really important for human-to-human transactions … but when machines-to-machines trade economic value, they are going to plug into protocols like bitcoin and ethereum. They are not going to open bank accounts at J.P. Morgan … those were invented by bankers before the internet existed,” Tyler stated, adding that “the criticisms are just a failure of the imagination.”

Earlier this week, Cointelegraph reported on a number of experts who shared a similarly bullish outlook on the price of Bitcoin, predicting that it will reach $50,000 by the end of 2018, resulting in a total cryptocurrency market cap of $1 trillion.

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Regulated, Government Issued Cryptos to Challenge Bitcoin in 2018

Calls for cryptocurrency regulation were a resounding theme at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.The world’s most prominent financial institutions remain wary of going all in on cryptocurrencies, amid fears of future regulation leading the market to tank.

Governments around the world have signaled their ongoing or imminent intent to legislate and regulate cryptocurrencies around the world, and it seems the largest banking and financial firms are waiting for more clarity before they forge ahead with plans to enter the market.

Countries like Russia are forging ahead with the creation of their own, government-issued cryptocurrency, which they can fully control. Others, like Venezuela, have been forced to do so to battle out-of-control inflation that has crippled its economy. Opposed to a decentralized and anonymous system, the creation of a cryptocurrency that governments can control is their only option to wrestle back some semblance of ‘control’ that has been handed to the everyday man using cryptocurrencies.

Speaking to RT at the WEF in Davos, Universa CEO Alexander Borodich said governments are keen to issue their own virtual currencies that would be backed by commodities like oil.

“From my perspective, they will offer state country-wide cryptocurrencies like Cryptorruble or crypto-barrel if they like to… back the oil they have or other natural resources.”

He added that 2018 would see the emergence of these state-issued cryptocurrencies to challenge the dominance of Bitcoin and other popular virtual currencies.

Nefarious uses still a concern

Despite the best intentions of honest developers, exchanges and Blockchain engineers, there is a prevailing sentiment that the underworld still uses cryptocurrencies. It’s been a number of years since the closure of Silk Road and subsequent black markets, but heads of states are still citing concerns over the nefarious uses of virtual currencies.

As quoted by the Independent, US treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin said there is a concerted effort being made to prevent cryptocurrencies being used for illicit trade.

“My number-one focus on cryptocurrencies, whether that be digital currencies or Bitcoin or other things, is that we want to make sure that they’re not used for illicit activities.”

A major concern is also the well-being of financial markets and systems that have been shaken up by the massive adoption of Bitcoin and altcoins in the past 12 months. In the words of Mnuchin:

“We encourage fintech and we encourage innovation, but we want to make sure all of our financial markets are safe. We want to make sure that the rest of the world — and many of the (Group of) 20 countries are already starting on this — have the same regulations.”

IMF head Christine Lagarde also painted a harsh perception of cryptocurrencies.

“The anonymity and lack of transparency and the way in which it conceals and protects money laundering and financing of terrorism is just unacceptable. It needs to be taken into account but then there will be innovations coming out of these movements.”

Nevertheless, the cryptocurrency community has been bullish on social media, slamming the apathy swirling around at Davos this week.

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Media’s Role in Blockchain and Crypto, Interview With TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher

Cointelegraph had a chance to work together with different incredible media at the World Economic Forum in Davos. We were exchanging ideas, feedbacking on events, chasing speakers together to get an interview. But with one colleague we just couldn’t help making an interview ourselves- Mike Butcher is the one who set a trend of quality for tech journalism, the one who made first steps of media covering the development of Blockchain and crypto, the editor-at-large at TechCrunch.

We discussed with Mike the media’s role in the digital economy and media driven market volatility,
the modern reporter’s responsibility to the market and their readers, as well as his work in reporting on Telegram’s TON ICO and crypto going mainstream.

CT: Thank you very much for joining us. So we are here in Davos and the first subject that is discussed is the digital economy. Blockchain is the word that is heard everywhere. How do you feel the media are handling now all that is related to Blockchain and crypto?

Mike Butcher: It’s interesting because the mainstream media are very much trying to play catch-up in these subjects. Most of the journalists even in tech aren’t necessarily in up to the speed on it as well, because the industry of Blockchain and cryptocurrency has only really become a big issue in the last year. Prior to that, it was considered an interesting technology, but people weren’t quite interested in it as they are now.

So the mainstream media is playing catch-up and you see a lot of simple mistakes made about mixing up the differences between tokens and coins. It’s a tricky one. I think we will get there, but it’s certainly a fascinating time.

CT: How would you evaluate the influence of media towards the market volatility now in fintech?

MB: I think that there’s a bit of a problem because that needs to be much more robust journalism about this space. A lot of it is certainly press-releasing. I think we need to do a better job. It would be good if everyone could do that a little bit more like independent journalism would be better.

CT: What for you is  news that is worth being published? I mean that now companies are using Blockchain in their names or launching ICOs and think this is newsworthy. What is for you the thing that catches your attention?

MB: The thing about TechCrunch is that we are fundamentally interested in the actual underlying technologies of all this new world, so we don’t really go in for writing about ICOs and things like that. We prefer to talk about the underlying technology, the actual applications, what it’s going to disrupt, those kind of things. Sure, it’s fine to mention the fact they might be doing an ICO, but that’s not what really for me what should lead the news. And also I think some ICOs that are interesting, many are not. It’s the fundamental technology that counts.

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CT: You are one of the first that caught the launching of TON ICO, Telegram ICO, so how would you evaluate the project?  What actually attracted your attention?

MB: I wasn’t just one of the first. TechCrunch and my story I did with Josh Constine was the first deep dive into what the Telegram ICO will consist of, how it will operate in the economy in its own right. What that means: generally, for the long-term survival ability of Telegram itself and there are enormous implications as well of how it’s going to affect other existing social networks like Facebook, for instance, which of course is hugely valuable now at this point.

So what interests us is that it appeared to be that they are going to move towards having their own currency similarly to the way people are using WeChat in China to swap value with each other and to pay for goods and services. I think it’s fascinating because Telegram’s ICO and therefore the TON currency that is going to come with, it means basically that this will be the first ever mainstream consumer application with a currency attached to it, which nobody has ever done before. It’s really a big deal, so for obvious reasons, that’s a big news story for TechCrunch.

CT: What about the other highlights of the year of 2017? What caught up your attention the most? What influenced and inspired you in Fintech and news about it?

MB: I think it was fascinating to see the roll-up rise of challenger banks, like Revolut or Starling in Europe. So challenger banks suddenly starting, I think, that’s going to give consumers a taste for brand new banking systems and banking brands. And then once they have a taste for that, they might also be interested in what’s going on in the crypto world. It’s fascinating to see the rise of Coinbase as really the first really common major consumer application in this area. Who knows what 2018 will bring? I think many interesting things in this space.

CT: What are your expectations?

MB: I have no expectations. I just have to write the raging bullets for a while. I think a lot of people are about a market correction. I think that probably will happen in the real-world economy, as well as in the crypto world. Actually, funny enough, with those market corrections, you actually get a lot more innovation, so the cycle continues.

CT:  What about the public attitude towards crypto and Blockchain? How did it evolve during that time that you were working for the tech-related media and what do you think will come in the following years?

MB: I think that 2017 was when we saw crypto become a mainstream discussion. When you have taxi drivers talking to you about Bitcoin – that’s when you know it’s pretty mainstream, so that’s a big deal. For various reasons that is not necessarily a fabulous thing because it does mean it’s very bubble-ish. It’s a very bubble market at the moment. But I think the fundamental underlying technology of what Blockchain technology is all about is not going away. It is here to stay. It’s the authentication layer for the Internet that the Internet always needed and from here the sky is the limit.

CT: What about Davos and the crypto community here? Is it different from other crypto communities at different events that you’ve met? Do you think that the level of discussion is different here or the views towards Blockchain and crypto?

MB: I think there’s a lot of hype. Remember that most of the people attending Davos are really in the finance community and asset management. Now that means anyway they are actually quite naturally predisposed to understanding the concepts around cryptographic assets. But in terms of technology, they are often still behind, so you go to see people at dinner and they talk about Blockchain, but they don’t really know what they are talking about. It’s really fascinating to watch. It’s not as geeky, shall we say, as some of the events I’ve been to, to cover the space, but it’s also very interesting and it’s worthwhile, I think. But as somebody said to me the other day, “Why are we doing crypto in Davos when we should actually just be doing our own version of Davos for the crypto community?” And that’s probably what will happen.

CT: Great! Well, enjoy your time in Davos and thank you very much.

MB: My pleasure. Thanks!

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Davos Elites Still Don't Get Blockchain

Michael J. Casey is chairman of CoinDesk’s advisory board and a senior advisor of blockchain research at MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative. 


Every year at the World Economic Forum, a handful of timely, hot-button issues overshadow the myriad other topics consuming the chatter of the attending businessmen, government officials, development professionals, celebrities, journalists and multiple other breeds of wannabe “Davos men.”

This year, as with last, a guy called Trump was on everyone’s mind. But that was hardly unexpected.

What was truly remarkable, at least for anyone who has been interested in blockchain technology since its relative obscurity only a few years ago, was the degree to which it became one of the uber-themes of #WEF2018.

In the wake of last year’s huge price surge for bitcoin, ether and many other digital tokens, and amid high-profile media coverage of the “crypto boom,” everyone wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

The newly curious trudged through piles of fresh snow to the various “blockchain lounges” set up outside the security perimeter of the main conference by outfits such as the Global Business Blockchain Council and ConsenSys.

There, they were served valuable insights into how this technology works but also, perhaps, a realization that blockchain technology’s promises of decentralized record-sharing and disintermediated trust have sweeping implications for everything from payments, international development and financial markets to the Internet of Things, energy, environmental management and identity.

But while light bulbs went off in some people’s heads, there were equally strong signs in the lead-up to and during the World Economic Forum that these concepts are still far from wide acceptance among the broad financial, economic and political establishment.

The many recent instances of people from the economic powers-that-be dismissing this technology’s relevance and over-emphasizing its risks over its potential are a reminder that those of us who believe in it still have work to do to get these influential people into the comfort zone.

Krugman’s myopia

In an interview with Bloomberg in Davos, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said she was looking “very seriously” at taking action against cryptocurrencies “precisely because of the way they are used, particularly by criminals.” In South Korea that same week, the government announced new rules requiring cryptocurrency traders to identify themselves.

But what struck me most was a pre-Davos tweet storm by Paul Krugman, one of a triumvirate of high-profile Nobel laureate economists who’ve been highly critical of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, the others being Joseph Stiglitz and Robert Shiller.

Responding to what I thought was a very enlightening cover piece in The New York Times Magazine, Krugman laid out what he thought the technology was all about and then came to this conclusion:

Predictably, the crypto community immediately dismissed the economist as an ignorant dinosaur. The favorite put-down was to remind him of his now notorious 1998 prediction that the “Internet’s impact on the economy [would be] no greater than the fax machine’s.”

Let’s make one thing clear: Paul Krugman is no idiot. Let’s forego the ad hominem. I think it’s more constructive to think about the ingrained mindset of otherwise intelligent mainstream economists that leads people like him to misunderstand the new social structures created by open-source communities, distributed consensus models and programmable tokenized incentive systems.

Krugman and his cohort are trapped by a rigid worldview, one that remains entrenched within the economics fraternity, despite the crisis of 2008, which painfully revealed the deep flaws of the profession’s quasi-scientific models of “rational” human behavior.

When it comes to understanding the value proposition of blockchain technology and drawing conclusions that “it’s not useful for anything,” the biggest problem of this blinkered mindset is that it fails to recognize the cost of trust.

Let me explain what I mean by that, because I think it’s key to getting skeptics to see why these ideas are so important. A few of us in the crypto community started playing with this logic in Davos. See if it works for you.

Hidden cost of trust

First, Krugman is right to say that expensive mining and the need to retain multiple copies of the same transaction record across distributed networks are “clunky” and “costly” aspects of blockchain technology. One answer to that is to say that innovations such as the Lightning Network will eventually fix the problem, but I think the better rejoinder is: “Compared to what?”

The “what” in this case is defined as the explicit and implicit costs that organizations pay to resolve shortfalls of trust. It turns out that that the cost of trust, which is passed onto consumers via higher prices and access restrictions, is very high indeed.

I don’t have a dollar number for it, but just think about the world’s skyscrapers, each filled with accountants doing endless checks and audits of other companies’ invoices, purchase orders and financial reports, and you get the idea.

They’re all trying to reconcile across each other’s separate, centralized ledgers, and all because they don’t trust each other’s records. That’s a cost of trust.

The cost of trust can also be conceived of via the old adage about electricity blackouts: that the highest cost of energy is the energy you can’t access. There are all sorts of potentially enriching transactions that we aren’t able to conduct because we can’t resolve the trust problem.

We can’t yet do peer-to-peer microtransactions between devices on the internet of things, for example, without passing them through some gatekeeping institution, be it a bank or a major cloud-service company like Google or Amazon. That not only adds costs and friction, it also constrains innovation.

And if you step outside the bubble of the developed world and consider the pervasive financial exclusion of the developing world, the cost of trust for 2 billion “unbanked” is especially high. (This is where Krugman is at his most myopic. Unable to leave the developed-world bubble, he claims that the only reason you would want to conduct electronic transactions in cryptocurrencies rather than via a bank account or some other third-party-trusted tool such as a debit card or PayPal is if “you’re buying drugs, assassinations, etc.”)

The perfect moment?

But the developed world is not at all immune from trust shortfalls.

The results of public releations firm Edelman’s “Trust Barometer,” which were released during the World Economic Forum, were scary, at least for Americans.

This annual survey showed that trust in the U.S. among the general population plunged 9 points, the largest-ever fall in the survey’s history, and by 23 points for the so-called “informed public” to post the lowest level of all 28 countries surveyed, below even Russia and South Africa.

As for what this means, let’s go to Breitbart, which many liberal Americans might argue is partly responsible for this breakdown.

It cited the PR firm’s CEO, Richard Edelman, as saying that the main factor behind the drop in trust was that “we lack common facts and have a fundamental difference of interpretation of facts.”

Common facts requires a common record of truth. I know a technology that can help with that….

Champagne image via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk strives to offer an open platform for dialogue and discussion on all things blockchain by encouraging contributed articles. As such, the opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of CoinDesk.

For more details on how you can submit an opinion or analysis article, view our Editorial Collaboration Guide or email news@coindesk.com.

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Bitcoin Takes the Stage at Davos in Currency Panel Debate

Cryptocurrencies took the stage Thursday at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, with the global elite event featuring a discussion that centered primarily on the question of whether bitcoin is a currency.

The panel, dubbed “The Crypto-Asset Bubble,” featured Cecilia Skingsley, deputy governor of Sweden’s central bank; Jennifer Zhu Scott, Radian Partners principal; Neil Rimer, Index Ventures general partner and co-founder; and Robert Shiller, the Nobel Prize-winning economist. The session was moderated by Yang Yanquing, deputy editor-in-chief of Chinese finance media conglomerate Yicai.

Shiller, who previously said he thought bitcoin was too ambiguous to put a price on, called the cryptocurrency a “really clever idea” during the event, but suggested that the tech might be better applied elsewhere.

“I’m impressed by the technology,” he remarked. “And it is spreading in certain quarters, there are certain people who love this. But it seems to me it’s technology for something else. It’s gone viral as a currency. Blockchain is important, but it’s not stable.”

Scott struck a critical tone, calling bitcoin “a very lousy currency.” Skingsley echoed this sentiment, arguing that a currency needs to have price stability and widespread acceptance in order to be efficient.

She continued:

“In my view, cryptocurrencies – bitcoin and the others – they don’t meet the criteria for money. They can be called an asset but they’re not a stable store of value, they fluctuate a lot, and you can’t use them as a medium of exchange.”

Index Ventures’ Rimer called bitcoin “one of the most audacious, generous and profound inventions” that he has ever seen, pointing out that it is only nine years old. He then went on to offer a rebuttal of sorts to the more critical take.

“We’re nine years into this experiment. It’s gone well at times and quite poorly. It could fail completely and go to zero, but it has accomplished a number of things I think are remarkable,” he said during the panel.

Scott later commented on the discussion around price movements – mentioning the rise above $10,000 in particular – as a kind of distraction to the bigger picture involved.

She remarked:

“The fact that people keep talking today that bitcoin is below 10,000, it’s a disaster, or bitcoin is above 10,000 and that’s crazy. I think the fact that bitcoin is still alive, and attracting so much attention, the fact that we’re talking about bitcoin in Davos with a Nobel Prize winner, a central bank governor and a seasoned investor, I think that’s a powerful tool.”

While the panelists seemed to agree on bitcoin’s nature, there was a note of uncertainty about its future between those on the panel.

Scott implied that a stable cryptocurrency in 10 years might look drastically different from bitcoin today, comparing it to discussions about MySpace’s success a prior ago. Rimer advocated for more regulation, saying that any truly innovative technology would need to work within existing regulatory frameworks – or at least push against them “responsibly” – in order to leave a lasting impact.

The WEF event has thus far featured a range of comments from world leaders on the topic of crypto, including U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Panel image via the World Economic Forum

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

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May, Lagarde, Mnuchin: World Leaders Are Talking Crypto at Davos

World leaders have struck a cautionary tone on cryptocurrencies in statements made during the World Economic Forum (WEF) event in Davos, Switzerland.

From the Prime Minister of the U.K. to the Treasury Secretary of the U.S., the event has seen a number of notable figures make remarks on both cryptocurrencies like bitcoin as well as blockchain technology as a whole. As reported yesterday, notable finance figures including Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein have already weighed in on the topic, suggesting that cryptocurrencies are quietly emerging as a major area of discussion at the gathering of the global elite.

For example, Steven Mnuchin, who leads the U.S. Treasury Department, remarked on one panel that “illicit use” of cryptocurrencies is a major concern for American regulators.

“My number-one focus on cryptocurrencies, whether that be digital currencies or bitcoin or other things, is that we want to make sure that they’re not used for illicit activities,” Mnuchin remarked, according to a report from Reuters.

Similarly, fellow panelist and International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde said bitcoin’s anonymity enables the movement of hidden funds.

“The anonymity and lack of transparency and the way in which it conceals and protects money laundering and financing of terrorism, is just unacceptable. It needs to be taken into account but then there will be innovations coming out of these movements,” Lagarde, a former finance minister of France, was quoted as saying.

Lagarde predicted that national governments are likely to further regulate cryptocurrencies to prevent these use cases. Perhaps proving Largarde’s point, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told Bloomberg that cryptocurrencies should be looked at due to how they are used “particularly by criminals.”

Perhaps most significantly, French President Emmanuel Macron called for an international approach to regulating cryptocurrencies, saying “we need to establish a global contract for global investment.”

Weighing the impact

Others at Davos commented specifically on the exact economic impact of cryptocurrencies today, with comments drawn from finance watchdogs from Asia and Europe, among other areas.

China’s securities regulator vice-chairman, Fang Xinghai, said during a panel that it is unclear what impact bitcoin would have on the economy.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz echoed those remarks, adding that he believes there would be little impact on the economy if the cryptocurrency market were to crash.

He went on to caution against investing in cryptocurrencies, saying:

“When we had the tech wreck, that was a much more widespread exposure. And the fact it barely had [a] perceptible effect on the real economy because it was not a stock market crash but just a segment of the stock market. But it was highly speculative, there was all kinds of bubbles there.”

The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, argued in turn that bitcoin has the potential to grow to a point where it would have a more significant impact.

He called for further regulations “before the amount of outstanding bitcoin becomes large enough to be systemically important to in the global economy,” predicting that it would reach that point “soon.”

Bullish on blockchain

Despite their concerns about cryptocurrencies, world leaders and regulators at Davos remarked positively about blockchain as a technology.

Poloz, for example, called it “a true piece of genius,” adding that he expects it to be applied to different aspects of the economy.

“The reason that it has such appeal in the case of bitcoin is it gives you finality of settlement that eventually grinds through the distributed ledger and therefore you trust that,” he remarked, according to CNBC, on the topic of a central bank-issued digital currency. “Whereas the central bank, if the Bank of Canada, were to issue a digital currency, well you already trust the Canadian dollar, and so you don’t need a distributed ledger in order to believe you just received final payment in your digital wallet.”

Lagarde called the technology “fascinating,” noting its censorship-resistant characteristics, among others.

She also suggested that other innovations are likely to emerge from the blockchain space, cautioning that regulators will need to monitor such developments over time, saying during the panel:

“…there will be new things and innovations coming out of this movement, and we just need to keep them under our watch.”

Image Credit: Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

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Cointelegraph Heads To Davos For WEF, Partners With Tech Tuesday Event

Cointelegraph will be attending this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 23-26, covering the event as a media partner for Tech Tuesday.

The WEF takes place in Davos every January and has so since the early 1970s. It brings together financial experts, academics, and world leaders in a small resort town in the Swiss alps to discuss the most pressing issues in global economics, business, and politics.

This year 2,926 people are set to attend the 48th WEF, which includes 400 discussions on a variety of topics. The WEF theme for 2018 is “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World,” which makes the topics of cryptocurrency and Blockchain, often cited as potential technologies for closing the global wealth gap, easy participants.

Tech Tuesday at Davos

Tuesday, Jan. 23, the first day of the Forum, marks the launch of a new event, “Tech Tuesday in Davos,” which Cointelegraph joins as the event’s media partner. The Tech Tuesday event is designed to help facilitate relationships between the global Tech and finance communities.  

Tech Tuesday will include members of the Forum’s Technology Pioneers, companies that, according to the WEF, have “demonstrated the ability to harness creativity to design and create transformative solutions.”

Ten out of the WEF 30 Technology Pioneers of 2017, and a select group of emerging tech influencers, will discuss the latest technology trends in 3-5 minute lightning talks with Mike Butcher, also the curator of the event and Editor-at-Large at TechCrunch.

Tech Tuesday is co-hosted by Yobie Benjamin, a Technology Pioneer of 2015, agenda contributor at the WEF and advisor and mentor to more than twenty tech companies worldwide.