Steve Bannon, who was ousted from the Trump White House in August 2017, joins a growing chorus of cryptocurrency evangelists who are betting that bitcoin will usher in a financial revolution.
“It’s disruptive populism,” Bannon told the New York Times. “It takes control back from central authorities. It’s revolutionary.”
Before delving into politics, Bannon was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. The Harvard Business School graduate is an avowed libertarian, so his support of the anti-establishment, unregulated crypto market is no surprise.
Traded Virtual Currencies Before Bitcoin
Interestingly, Bannon was trading virtual currencies before bitcoin was founded, as CCN has reported.
In 2007, when Bannon was CEO of a company called Internet Gaming Entertainment, he spent $60 million on virtual currencies in the popular online game, World of Warcraft.
Bannon thought he could make easy money through "gold-farming," a process where players acquire large amounts of in-game virtual currency, which is used to help their characters advance in the game.
Some players accumulated so much gold that other players were willing to trade real cash for it, Financial Review reported.
Bannon's company, Internet Gaming Entertainment, at one point made hundreds of millions of dollars being the middleman in this lucrative online racket.
'Control Of Currency Is Control Of Everything'
Since pivoting away from politics in 2017 and being forced out of Breitbart News in January 2018, Bannon has delved head-long into cryptocurrencies. He wants to help entrepreneurs and countries launch their own virtual currencies.
“It was pretty obvious to me that unless you somehow got control over your currency, all these political movements were going to be beholden to who controlled the currency,” Bannon said. “Control of the currency is control of everything."
Timothy Lewis, a hedge fund manager and blockchain advisor, met with Bannon in May 2018 to discuss initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency regulation.
He told the New York Times he was impressed with Bannon's surprisingly deep knowledge of crypto. “He had clearly done his homework,” said Lewis, co-founder of the Ikigai hedge fund, which invests in cryptocurrency projects.
Bannon, who owns a “good stake” in bitcoin, previously said that he would have become involved in crypto back in 2016 if he hadn't joined the Trump campaign.
Unfortunately for Steve Bannon, he no longer has the massive media platform that being chairman of Breitbart gave him. He has also fallen out of favor with Trump supporters, who distanced themselves from him after he left the White House.
Institutional Investors Want 'Regulatory Clarity'
Bannon's unpopularity is part of the reason why he's reluctant to discuss any cryptocurrency projects he's currently involved in. That said, there's no denying that virtual currencies have entered the zeitgeist.
While bitcoin has been flailing for weeks now, mainstream media coverage of the industry is escalating as regulatory scrutiny heats up.
Many bitcoin bulls say regulation is good for the market because it legitimizes the industry and will promote more widespread adoption.
Bart Smith, who was crowned “Wall Street’s Crypto King” by CNBC, is confident that institutional investments will pour in once "regulatory clarity" is provided.
— CNBC's Fast Money (@CNBCFastMoney) June 6, 2018
“There’s a big debate going on about whether there should be more or less regulation. From our standpoint, it’s really about regulatory clarity,” said Smith, the head of the digital asset group at Susquehanna International Group. “Clarity will allow institutions to come in more than anything else because institutions don’t like to invest into uncertainty.”
Featured image from Flickr/Gage Skidmore.