Despite this year’s prolonged cryptocurrency market decline, many mainstream financial institutions and wealth managers have continued to explore how to make this nascent asset class more accessible to their clients. Firms such as Goldman Sachs and Fidelity are building crypto custody products, while exchange giants Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and Nasdaq are focusing on futures trading. Don’t expect Allianz Global Investors to add its name to the list anytime soon.
Speaking on Tuesday at a panel discussion in London, Andreas Utermann, CEO of Allianz — one of Europe’s largest asset managers — called for markets watchdogs to pursue a scorched earth approach to cryptocurrency regulation, stating that an outright ban was preferable to the “light-touch” frameworks pursued in some corners of the world.
“You should outlaw it”, Utermann said, according to a Reuters report. “I am personally surprised that regulators haven’t stepped in harder.”
The “you” to whom Utermann was referring may have been Andrew Bailey, the head of Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who was sitting next to him on the stage. Per the report, Bailey responded that Utermann’s position was “quite strong actually!” and that he agreed that cryptocurrency had “no intrinsic value.”
“We are watching that very closely,” Bailey continued, stating that the FCA had the initial coin offering (ICO) sector under close surveillance.
While Andreas Utermann’s hard line on cryptocurrency regulation does not appear to leave any room for negotiation, one of his colleagues at Allianz is somewhat more optimistic about this application of blockchain technology.
Mohamed El-Erian, chief economist at Allianz, has said that he doesn’t believe cryptocurrency will ever replace fiat money but that it will survive the present bear market and become “more and more widespread.”
“Cryptocurrencies will exist. They will become more and more widespread, but they will be part of an ecosystem,” he said last month at a conference in New York. “They will not be dominant, as some of the early adopters believed them to be.”
El-Erian has long regarded $5,000 as his bitcoin price target, stating that last year’s speculative frenzy — which caused a run-up to nearly $20,000 — was unwarranted and that the flagship cryptocurrency was a “buy” below that mark.
“Crypto is not dead, and certainly the underlying technology is not dead,” he said in September. “We’re going to see more widespread adoption, by both the private and public sector, of the blockchain technology and related technologies.”
Andreas Utermann Image from Rika73/Wikimedia Commons