Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein is not comfortable with bitcoin, but he does not want to rule out its potential to disrupt the accepted notion of what constitutes “money”.
Speaking with Bloomberg TV at the Goldman Sachs Sustainable Finance Innovation Forum in New York, Blankfein explained that although the concept of digital currency gives him a “level of discomfort,” he does not want to dismiss it out of hand.
“I have a level of discomfort with it, as I have…with anything that’s new,” he reflected, “But I’ve learned over the years that there’s a lot of things that work out pretty well that I don’t love.”
As an example, Blankfein says that when he first encountered the cell phone, he thought it was a ludicrous invention that no one would want. “I missed that one,” he joked.
He notes that, similarly, people have initially expressed discomfort with new incarnations of money as it has evolved from a hard asset into paper currency backed by a hard asset into its present state as a currency backed by government fiat.
“Maybe in the new world, something gets backed by consensus,” he said, referring to the fact that cryptocurrency’s value is backed by neither hard assets nor government authority. “Instead of a government fiat, maybe it’s a consensual arrangement by people that agree that it’s worth something.”
Blankfein’s open stance on bitcoin provides a stark contrast with that of JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon, who has called the cryptocurrency a “fraud” on multiple occasions and has said that bitcoin investors — a group that includes his own daughter — are “stupid”.
“It’s not my natural state of comfort,” Blankfein continued, but…if we went into the future and bitcoins were successful, I would be able to explain how it was a natural evolution from hard money….Maybe 200 years from now even someone like me might be comfortable with it,” he concluded, “And that’s why I say that I am open to it.”