The CEO of Fidelity Investments, Abigail Johnson, spoke about blockchain technology at a conference in NY yesterday, revealing details about the company’s involvement in it and confessing her love for cryptocurrency, specifically bitcoin and ethereum.
“I love this stuff – bitcoin, ethereum, blockchain technology – and what the future holds,” she said.
She revealed that Fidelity Investments is working on integrating into its website a display of assets held at San Francisco headquartered cryptocurrency wallet and exchange Coinbase. It is expected to be completed by Q3 2017.
Back in March, New York’s financial regulator, the state Department of Financial Services (DFS), announced that Coinbase’s licensing application to offer ethereum and litecoin was approved. This means that we can expect these to appear on Fidelity Investments clients’ portfolios, in addition to bitcoin.
The CEO also revealed that Fidelity Investments tested various aspects of cryptocurrency: “We have built proofs of concepts that accept bitcoin micro-transactions. We set up small bitcoin and ethereum mining operations, just done in the spirit of learning.”
“Even we at Fidelity can see that the evolution of technology is setting up our industry for disruption. What if this new technology could do for the transfer of value what the internet did for the transfer of information? Blockchain isn’t just a new way to settle transactions; it can fundamentally change market structure, or maybe even the architecture of the internet itself. When combined with things like the Internet of Things or the cloud, there’s no underestimating the potential that’s on the horizon.”
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Despite this love for cryptocurrency, Johnson is not blind to the current problems and to the challenges ahead:
“I like to think that huge new markets and products will be built on these platforms. “But before that can happen, we need to address the barriers there are to adoption—and there are several.
We care about the trade-off between scalability, privacy, and achieving peer-to-peer settlement. It seems right now you can’t have all three.
Regulators will have a steep learning curve, and that will cause some growing pains.
The financial services industry will need to work to understand the risks associated with who controls the features of these new systems.
If you are looking for bitcoin to beat Visa at the point of sale today, you are going to be disappointed. If you are looking at this technology as just a faster settlement system for financial transactions … also disappointing.
But I am still a believer – and it’s no accident that I’m one of the few standing before you today from a large financial services firm that hasn’t given up on digital currencies.”