Chinese business magnate Jack Ma is confused by bitcoin and is not interested in learning more about the emerging cryptocurrency asset class, even though his company is pouring significant resources into blockchain development.
Speaking with CNBC, the founder and executive chairman of tech conglomerate Alibaba, said that he was repeatedly asked about bitcoin at the World Internet Conference, which was held this week in Wuzhen, China.
“I said honestly, I know very little about it, and I’m totally confused,” Ma replied.
Ma, whose $38.6 billion net worth makes him China’s richest man, warned that if bitcoin did prove to be more than just a blip on the economic radar, it would completely upend the international order.
"Even if it works, the whole international rules on trade and financing are going to be completely changed," he said, adding that “We’ve spent a lot of efforts on blockchain technology and development.”
Ma stressed that Alibaba’s blockchain efforts will be restricted to applications that operate within the current economic order. The company has already launched blockchain initiatives designed to improve healthcare and combat the sale of counterfeit food.
“I don’t think we are ready for that,” he said, casting doubt on whether Alibaba will make a leap into the cryptocurrency space. “I’m [going] to focus on AliPay,” the company’s mobile payments platform, as well as other technologies that focus on development for the RMB, USD, EUR, and other state-issued currencies.
“Bitcoin [is] not for me,” Ma reiterated, stating that although Alibaba desires to lead the charge toward a cashless China, it wants to do so in a way that is efficient, transparent, and corruption-free, perhaps alluding to some of the common criticisms levied against bitcoin.
“We are not focused on bitcoin, we are focused on a cashless society for China...trying to make sure the society is more efficient, more transparent, with no corruption," he concluded.
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