It’s been a month since JP Morgan Chase & CO CEO Jamie Dimon gave his thoughts on Bitcoin and the viability of cryptocurrency. He pulled no punches.
“It’s just not a real thing; eventually it will be closed,” he said at a Delivering Alpha conference presented by CNBC, going so far as to compare its burgeoning popularity to the tulip bulb craze of the 17th century. “It won’t end well…someone is going to get killed. Currencies have legal support – it will blow up.”
Though Dimon didn’t elaborate on the human threat posed by Bitcoin and other forms of digital currency, he had a definite prediction for JP Morgan employers interested in its market, saying he’d “fire (them) in a second,” for two reasons: “It’s against our rules and (Bitcoins) are stupid.”
Still, for as doggedly as Dimon – a banker likely with good reason to decry the technology – insists on cryptocurrency’s downfall, there are plenty of industry frontrunners who have begun to hit back just as hard.
Swiss crypto startup Eidoo, for instance, felt strongly enough to take out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal in response to the CEO’s comments.
“Maybe Jamie (Dimon) will fire you,” said the ad. “But, you’ll be free to trade in the crypto-world.” Eidoo platforms itself as a digital wallet for people to hold Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap. For its part, the company seems to be doing fairly well, given its willingness to splurge on a one-time marketing jab: A full-page ad in the WSJ costs around $250,000, according to the publication.
Others have undoubtedly profited from Bitcoin, the most recognized form of cryptocurrency. In fact, in March this year, financial markets gauged one unit of the currency for the first time as being higher in value ($1,268) than an ounce of gold-the currency’s expected moniker of “digital gold” soon followed.
Established in 2009 by Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright, the idea behind the technology was to create a form of decentralized digital currency, one free from all of the fees and bureaucracy associated with conventional banks. Bitcoin transactions would be upheld and notated by a technology called the Blockchain, a database ledger – accessible to anyone in the market – by which traders could record and annotate their dealings in the same manner that Google Docs allows users to access and make amendments to common documents. A fully public registry – accessible by millions – Blockchain and its underlying securities could in theory render a digital currency system virtually incorruptible.
Eight short years later, Bitcoin has grown to a $9 billion industry. Some estimates place the value of cryptocurrency overall as being as high as $100 billion.
Indeed, the market has its share of proponents. Shortly after Dimon’s scathing denouncement of Bitcoin’s future, a prominent San Francisco tech partner took to Twitter to offer a rebuttal, slamming the CEO for a position he perceived to be hypocritical and ignorant.
“When Jamie Dimon was making those comments, I was an invited speaker at JP Morgan’s offices in San Francisco to give a talk with other fund managers and clients of JP Morgan who are really curious about cryptocurrencies and the underlying Blockchain technology,” said Bart Stephens, co-founder of Bay Area-based Blockchain capital, in a newsletter with Fortune’s Term Sheet.
“So,” he said, “there is some hypocrisy going on with Jamie Dimon.”
It does well to remember, still, that Stephens – himself a venture capitalist involved with Blockchain – has a proverbial dog in the cryptocurrency fight.
So what of those others at the forefront of tech and finance, ones without direct ties to or against the technology?
Some think cryptocurrency fits just fine into the Internet of Things.
For those not in the know, tech experts use the term to describe the ubiquity of access in our modern lives– smart phones that text, Facebooks that feed, tablets that Snap, and anything involving Bluetooth and your home air conditioning are but a few examples of the ways in which technology has integrated into nearly every facet of modern society.
While some have cited security concerns regarding the interaction of IoT interfaces and currencies as valuable as Bitcoin, many remain optimistic as both technologies develop. IoT expert Ahmed Banafa highlighted Blockchain as one such promising step toward IoT security.
“Blockchain is promising for IoT security for the same reasons it works for cryptocurrency: It provides assurances that data is legitimate, and the process that introduces new data is well-defined,” he said in a recent lecture at San Jose State University.
In such a way, the integrity of crypto transactions could be ensured even while accessibility increases.
What is apparent at this point is the stark interest new-market investors have taken in both technologies, ones that respectively comprise multi-billion dollar industries and continue to exhibit rapid growth.
Scottsdale-based tech and Renaissance man Jason Hope is not among the deniers.
“The fact that (this) technology is becoming viable excites me,” he said in a February interview with IdeaMensch. “It will not be long before every home in the developed world will be dependent on their IoT-connected devices…I see them making a huge difference in our society.”
Will IoT, Bitcoin and other Crypto merge to form revolutionize a new, long-lasting super-currency? If it’s too soon to say for sure, one thing is for certain – they’ve got people talking.
About Jason Hope
Jason Hope is an Arizona-based tech, entrepreneur, futurist and philanthropist. A finance graduate of Arizona State University and MBA-holder from the school’s W.P. Carey School of Business, Hope recently donated $500,000 to the SENS Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to researching rejuvenation biotechnologies related to addressing age-related diseases. He resides in Scottsdale.