Cryptocurrencies: Digital Tulips or The Future of Fintech
Steve Bannon, in a conversation with CNBC, recently stated that he not only owns Bitcoin but refers to cryptocurrencies as “the future.” Meanwhile, hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin of Citadel Investment Group indicated his reticence to purchase cryptocurrencies.
This highlights the great divide that cryptocurrencies have driven between the financial and political elite. While Bannon believes that there have been grave missteps with the recent explosion of ICOs, this has not stopped him from working to create his utility tokens. According to the interview, he sees cryptocurrencies as a funding source for “the populist movement on a worldwide basis.”
For investors like Bannon, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are the perfect tool to control pools of wealth within like-minded social and political communities. In a globalized economy, operating outside of the boundaries of traditional funding streams means insulation from the broader market and greater financial and political capitalization.
On the flip side of the coin, Ken Griffin, founder of Citadel Investment Group, stated that he hasn’t had a single portfolio manager tell him that he should purchase Bitcoin. In the past, he has referred to cryptocurrencies as “digital tulips” a reference to the world’s first recorded speculative bubble in the 1700s. While the Dutch tulip market was incredibly active before its eventual crash, The Netherlands never saw an expansion of wealth from the bullish tulip market.
Griffin’s Disbelief in Pioneer Cryptocurrency
This point of view is not surprising given the incredible price volatility that Bitcoin has shown in 2017. After trading at $20,000 in December 2017, it currently sits around $7,500. However, the relatively high price of Bitcoin seems to indicate that investors still see enough utility in the cryptocurrency to invest.
Griffin goes on to state in his interview that he could not invest in a product that he does not believe in. Furthermore, he wished that 27-year-olds were investing in companies which will “define the future of the country.”
Griffin seems to think that cryptocurrencies are a dead end which is denying capital to businesses that are driving the future of the global industry. Bannon believes that crypto is a way to consolidate wealth around a shared political and social ideology.
While markets remain volatile, only time will tell if crypto is the future of fintech or a digital tulip craze.