How much of a threat is Bitcoin? For the banks, the cryptocurrency uprising means their days are numbered, says Bitcoin expert Andreas Antonopoulos.
Bitcoin broke the $8,000 USD barrier for the first time today, continuing its climb to now ten times its value at the start of 2017. One Bitcoin is now worth six times that of an ounce of gold and that fact is giving investors fits over if and when the cryptobubble might burst, even as the ranks of the converted keep growing.
But along with its price, the war of words over Bitcoin continues to ramp up.
“I could care less what bitcoin trades for, how it trades, why it trades, who trades it,” said Jamie Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase, who famously called Bitcoin a fraud, saying that if people are “stupid enough to buy it, you’ll pay the price one day.”
Dimon’s claim, one echoed by other crypto-skeptics, is that, ultimately, fiat currencies endorsed by governments will always assume pride of place within economic systems, simply because money is too pivotal a concern to be left to decentralized platforms such as Bitcoin’s.
“Governments are going to crush [Bitcoin] one day,” Dimon said. “Governments like to know where the money is, who has it and what you’re doing with it, in case you haven’t noticed.”
The response from the believers?
“Jamie doth protest too much,” says Antonopoulos, author of Mastering Bitcoin and The Internet of Money, who spoke last month at SingularityU Canada Summit, a forum on technology and social change held last month in Toronto.
“It’s interesting that the head of the largest investment bank in the world finds time in his busy day to speak about a ‘nothing,’ an irrelevant technology that has no impact on the world,” Antonopoulos said. “As he was saying that, JP Morgan traders were buying Bitcoin.”
In a unique bit of irony, JPMorgan itself has been found guilty of money-laundering and fraud by Swiss financial markets authority FINMA, a fact that Antonopoulos didn’t hesitate from pointing out. “They got fined $2 billion, which they paid for by committing more mortgage fraud.”
But beyond the personal slights, Antonopolous’ message was clearly one of doom and gloom for traditional financial institutions, saying that “The world’s banks have never faced competition from the Internet. They need to learn really quickly that when the Internet comes for your industry, it doesn’t end well.”
Antonopoulos was speaking on the topic of decentralization and its impact on societal structures when the topic of Dimon came up in the Q&A. He claims that one of the signs that cryptocurrencies are the way of the future is that millennials are gravitating towards them and shifting their wealth away from traditional banking.
“When you talk to millennials who have been thoroughly disappointed by every single social institution — the government, the church, the politics, the parties — they can’t trust anyone anymore,” Antonopoulos said to Forbes. “They remember 2008, because it was the first big crash they’ve had, and many millennials have been unable to find work. They watched no bankers go to jail.”