Nouriel Roubini testified on October 11 in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Community Affairs, regarding cryptocurrency, and has not bit his tongue regarding his negative view of the entire sector. He has railed against the entire sector, calling the cryptocurrency sector “the mother and father of all scams”, and calling bitcoin a “dinosaur”. The comments are not new, considering the famed economist, who predicted the global recession of 2008, has always had a negative stance towards cryptocurrencies, although many were taken aback by how dramatic many of his statements were. Many also believe that Roubini is being disingenuous by failing to disclose his conflict of interest, in that he has earned millions of dollars through consultancy fees for various banks and financial institutions. There are many convinced that financial institutions are threatened by blockchain technology and its ability to impact the global payments sector, and that Roubini is clearly pushing a biased agenda.
However, there was a very contrasting opinion offered by Peter Van Valkenburgh, the director of research at Coin Center. He described bitcoin as revolutionary, because it was the first tool that was able to send value without a middleman. He recognized that blockchain technology has issues, but also pointed out that e-mail had issues when it was invented in 1972. When you consider that the Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, estimated that there are over 280 billion e-mails sent per day – the point is obvious: just because a technology might not be perfect or widely adopted, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have immense potential.
Valkenburgh points to the fact that there are constant cybersecurity breaches at companies that have millions of consumer data records, citing the Equifax hack that compromised over 140 million social security numbers. Valkenburgh emphasized that blockchain technology could make payment infrastructure much more efficient, and urged lawmakers to consider legislation that would allow for innovation, comparing blockchain technology to the Internet in the 1990s.