At last year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Bitcoin was only mentioned in scorn by the attending central banking elite. Major establishment players such as JP Morgan Chairman Jamie Dimon, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew managed to say the word Bitcoin, only to speak of it through clenched teeth. In 2015, Bitcoin is getting the respect it deserves, at least from the event’s organizers themselves. (I’m sure the acquisitions of Microsoft, PayPal and Dell since last year’s event had something to do with it.)
World Economic Forum Promotes Bitcoin This Year
The Swiss resort in Davos receives its annual draw of global economists, central banking elitist, and financial policymakers every January, and 2015 is no exception. Instead of taking a back seat to climate change, energy prices, and population growth, Bitcoin, and the digital currency industry is getting a seat at the table of primary discussions this year.
The title of the seminar due at Davos on Friday afternoon is “From bucks to Bitcoins”. This financial seminar will focus on how far digital currency has come, who are the players involved, and how currencies like Bitcoin can change consumer behavior going forward. Non-fans like Jamie Dimon should probably find a seat to this program for more information.
Even the local economy has become a mini-Bitcoin haven since last year’s event. Davos attendees can paying for local apartments in Bitcoin now, maybe take a toboggan trip at their leisure, or even ride in a new Nissan using digital currency.
Also read: Davos Elites Worried About Bitcoin and Other Disruptive Technologies
Another key discussion that will take place happens today with “The Future of the Digital Economy”, featuring speakers such as Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, talking about the future of the Internet.
U.S. Government Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had the following to say about Bitcoin at last year’s event:
“From the government’s perspective, we have to make sure [bitcoin] does not become an avenue to funding illegal activities or to funding activities that have malign purposes like terrorist activities. It is an anonymous form of transaction. And it offers places for people to hide.”
JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon had an even less diplomatic response to the nascent currency:
“The question isn’t whether we accept it. The question is “Do we even participate [with] people who facilitate Bitcoin?” he said. “The people who are going to get eventually upset with it will be governments. Bitcoin will eventually be made to follow the same standards as all other payment systems, and that will probably be the end of them.”
Wences Casares, the CEO of Bitcoin storage company Xapo, believes that Bitcoin “Its gold 2.0…it’s substantially better than gold.” He told CNBC he believed that in 10 years’ time, traditional banks will look more like multi-function telecoms firms and believes that bitcoin will form part of that transformation. This is similar to the industry realignment with the creation of the Internet a generation ago, when phone companies fought it, but then learned to integrate the Internet into their business model. Multi-national banks may, or have to, do the same, to remain relevant long-term. The Bitcoin technology has the potential to leapfrog over them like Netflix did to Blockbuster Video. It will be interesting to see if, and when the views of elite players like Jamie Dimon change and evolve in the coming years.
The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is going on now through January 24th.
Photos provided by Wikimedia & Shuttestock.
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