(ANTIMEDIA) Switzerland — Cryptocurrencies were a hot topic at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with the world’s financial elite essentially split on how to view a technology that’s still less than a decade old.
One market player in attendance, however, George Soros — who, as of December 2017, is worth $8 billion — appeared far more confident in his assessment.
“Cryptocurrency is a misnomer and is a typical bubble, which is always based on some kind of misunderstanding,” the 87-year-old Soros said in a speech in Davos on Thursday.
“Bitcoin is not a currency because a currency is supposed to be a stable store of value and the currency that can fluctuate 25 percent in a day can’t be used for instance to pay wages because wages drop by 25 percent in a day,” Soros said. “It’s a speculation. Based on a misunderstanding.”
On the subject of usability, the business magnate claimed that at the present date, cryptocurrencies are primarily a tool of the criminal element:
“Currently it’s used mostly for tax evasion and for people and the rulers and dictatorships to build a nest egg abroad.”
This sentiment echoes that of U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who also spoke on the subject while in Davos.
“In areas like cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, we should be looking at these very seriously,” May said in a television interview with Bloomberg, adding that action on cryptocurrencies may be needed “precisely because of the way they are used, particularly by criminals.”
However, research published earlier this month found only one percent of Bitcoin transactions were actually linked to suspected criminal activity.
Other financial experts, however, appeared less eager to denounce the technology. Speaking at a panel discussion on Thursday, Index Ventures general partner and co-founder Neil Rimer said it’s simply too early to make a judgment call:
“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.”
Jennifer Zhu Scott, deputy governor of Sweden’s central bank, appeared to agree. She noted that the fact that so many of the world’s financial heavyweights are being forced to address the issue of cryptocurrencies is evidence of the technology’s power:
“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.”
Robert Shiller, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, was also on the panel.
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