It’s not often that regulators, particularly French ones, have anything positive to say about the cryptocurrency industry. But, on Thursday this week, a member of the European Central Bank (ECB) executive board – Benoît Cœuré – said, with a huge caveat, that Bitcoin was a “clever idea.”
Cœuré made his comments at the Economics of Payments IX conference, an event hosted by the Bank for International Settlements in Basel. As its name suggests, the event focuses on payments and financial markets infrastructure.
Opening the conference with a keynote, Cœuré noted that the first block in Bitcoin’s blockchain contains a 2009 headline from The Times which reads; “Chancellor on Brink of Second Bailout for Banks.”
“In more ways than one,” said Cœuré, “Bitcoin is the evil spawn of the financial crisis.”
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Annoyingly, Cœuré did not elaborate on this point. He continued by saying that, though Bitcoin is a clever idea, it is not a good idea.
To justify this view, Cœuré quoted the Mexican economist Agustín Carstens, who once said that Bitcoin is “a combination of a bubble, a Ponzi scheme and an environmental disaster.”
ECB no fan of crypto
In fairness to Cœuré, keynote speeches are often delivered within a narrow time frame and have to address an array of issues. That doesn’t leave much time for speakers to deliver a concise, in-depth argument on specific topics.
Having said that, Cœuré clearly made a distinction between Bitcoin and blockchain technology during his speech. In making that distinction, he seemed to imply that cryptocurrencies, and not just Bitcoin, are bad and blockchain is good.
The merits of cryptocurrencies are certainly debatable but to write them off entirely seems unreasonable. Dash’s foray into hyperinflation-ridden Venezuela, where more than 2,000 merchants accept the cryptocurrency as a form of payment and payments can be made via text, is illustrative of both the positive effects cryptocurrencies can have and the verity of the anti-government worldview that played a hand in their creation.