This past Thursday saw the notoriously cryptocurrency-averse economist Nouriel Roubini square off against the Director of Research at Coin Center, Peter Van Valkenburg, in testifying before a US Senate hearing.
Furthermore, the hearing – dubbed ”Exploring the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Ecosystem” – saw these two figures attempt to inform the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on the advantages and potential drawbacks of cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency industry observers will know that Roubini had been building up to this week’s hearing through going on an increasingly intense cryptocurrency-bashing tirade on Twitter.
Toshi Times has previously covered how Roubini this week claimed that Bitcoin was ”more centralized than North Korea”, that Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin was a ”dictator for life”, and that the Gini inequality coefficient for Bitcoin is supposedly worse than that of North Korea.
Subsequently, the hearing itself did not hold any particular surprises when it came to what views Roubini expressed on cryptocurrencies. He closely followed the contents of a 30-page written statement which was published in advance of the hearing, and reiterated some of the claims he had made on Twitter in the past week.
Following a brief introductory by the Committee’s Chairman Mike Crapo on the importance of Bitcoin as the ”first-ever digital asset”, Roubini went on to claim that the asset class as a whole is ”imploding”, and noted that a study had found that 80% of ICOs during 2017 were reportedly scams.
In addition to this, he also said that virtual currencies would be useless as a realistic payment method, as he argued that they can supposedly neither function as a unit of account, means of payment or store value.
Furthermore, Roubini also mentioned his belief that centralized payment systems are inherently superior to decentralized ones, compared the Bitcoin network’s current throughput to that of Visa, and argued that only terrorists and criminals use the technology for transactions, as well as various other perceived drawbacks.
Following this, Van Valkenburgh took the stage to deliver a speech on the core essentials of Bitcoin and blockchain technology, as well as why it could hold the keys to revolutionary change.
Van Valkenburgh also compared the technology to the early days of the internet, arguing that just because the technology has some current inefficiencies and issues does not mean that it should be abandoned.
Rather, Van Valkenburgh argued, blockchain technology could potentially do away with single points-of-failure, among other things leading to the prevention of both security failures and large-scale data leaks. Van Valkenburgh concluded that this, however, necessitates a ”light-touch, pro-innovation” policy regarding Bitcoin and blockchain technology.
Following this, the floor of the Committee hearing was opened up for questions, touching on the volatility of the cryptocurrency market, the potential of cryptocurrencies to help bridge systemic inequality and gender gaps, as well as various security-related questions.
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Rasmus Pihl is a writer for Toshi Times by day and an avid follower of the blockchain industry by night. Rasmus holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from the Gothenburg School of Business, Economics, and Law and runs a Swedish marketing consulting firm. Moreover, when he isn’t writing for Toshi Times, traveling, working or changing the world in some other capacity, Rasmus is more than likely caught up in postgraduate studies.