Bitcoin is ‘evil spawn’ of financial crisis, says ECB banker

Benoît Cœuré calls controversial cryptocurrency a ‘clever idea’ but ‘not a good idea’

“Bitcoin accepted” sign in the window of a cafe in Zurich. Photograph: iStock

“Bitcoin accepted” sign in the window of a cafe in Zurich. Photograph: iStock

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One of the top bankers in the euro zone has described bitcoin as “the evil spawn of the financial crisis”. European Central Bank executive board member Benoît Cœuré said at the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland that bitcoin was “an extremely clever idea”, adding that “sadly, not every clever idea is a good idea”.

Mr Cœuré traced cryptocurrencies’ faults to their origins, noting that Satoshi Nakamoto – the supposed creator of bitcoin– mined the first block months after Lehman Brothers collapsed.

“Few remember that Satoshi embedded the genesis block with a Times headline from January 2009 about UK banks’ bailout. In more ways than one, bitcoin is the evil spawn of the financial crisis.”

He also reminded his audience that BIS head Agustin Carstens is in a similar camp, after previously saying bitcoin is “a combination of a bubble, a Ponzi scheme and an environmental disaster”.

Speaking a day after International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde urged central banks to look into issuing digital currencies, Mr Cœuré outlined the experiments that monetary authorities have been doing around the world on crypto tokens and distributed-ledger technologies.

The upshot: while most central banks are studying them, “there is broad agreement that a central bank digital currency, in whatever form, is unlikely to be issued within the next decade.” – Bloomberg

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