“I’m not prepared to say that Bitcoin will go to zero, I still own Bitcoin,” were just some of the words uttered by Brad Garlinghouse at this year’s Davos’ headline discussion on blockchain technology.
Garlinghouse sat in debate with a number of other panelists, including Edith Yeung of 500 Startups, to discuss the future of both Bitcoin and Blockchain technology, and highlighted his belief that the most successful cryptos of the future will be those that grant access to technologies with the greatest utility.
Whilst there were differences amongst the panel on Bitcoin’s future prospects, it did share consensus on the current bear market, now the longest in Bitcoin’s history, seeing it as it largely irrelevant for the future of the industry, with Yeung stating her belief that “in some sense it’s a really good thing that the crypto markets have in some ways fizzled out, because the ones that are still here building are the ones who really believe in the technology itself.”
Glenn Hutchins, co-founder of Silverlake Partners, drew a parallel with the early noughties: “I first came to Davos in 2002, and people all told me in 2002 that the Internet was dead because internet stocks were all down by 90%…I don’t think you can make any conclusions about the potential of this industry based on what has been happening over the last twelve months.”
“Ripple a payments company, not a blockchain company”
Midway through the talk, conversation turned to Ripple with Garlinghouse explaining to the audience that he does not consider Ripple to be either a crypto company or a blockchain company. “We’re a payments company … which happens to be using blockchain technology to solve a payments problem” he stated, before adding that he has no specific interest in cryptocurrencies for their own sake but as a tool to help answer questions such as “Who is the customer? What problems are you solving? Does it scale? – the basic questions you should be asking in any normal business.”
The CEO went on to explain, however, why he thought blockchain technology has vast implications for industry. “There is an opportunity to fundamentally rewire how modern financial institutions work,” he added, as “banks currently have about $10 trillion USD” tied up in nostro/vostro accounts “to enable cross-border payments.”
Davos, otherwise known by its more formal name of World Economic Forum, is an annual event held in Switzerland that brings together establishment figures into an informal setting to discuss some of the leading topics in economics, industry and on the geo-political stage.
However, with the presidents of the US, China and Russia giving the event a miss this year, the 2019 entry – which ended yesterday after four days of discussion – appears to have registered as one of the less eventful conferences in recent memory.