Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Debating Bitcoin: Will the Cryptocurrency's Merits Be Its Undoing?

Debating Bitcoin: Will the Cryptocurrency's Merits Be Its Undoing?
Photograph by George Frey/Getty Images

When it comes to the merits of Bitcoin, even the tech community is still on the fence. Coming into a debate about the decentralized digital currency at Bloomberg’s Next Big Thing Summit on Tuesday, an audience poll found 60 percent of attendees predicted the virtual currency—priced at $105 during the session—wouldn’t be worth $500 in five years. By the time Ribbit Capital founder Micky Malka and Jim Rickards of Tangent Capital were done speaking 25 minutes later, however, about the same percentage felt that Bitcoin would exceed $500 in that time.

On the pro side was Malka, a longtime fan of the cryptocurrency and a venture capitalist focused on disrupting the financial-services space. Playing the skeptic: Rickards, who wrote Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis. While Rickards appealed to logic by arguing that Bitcoin doesn’t offer the stability or safety of a central bank-backed currency, Malka effectively compared it to other units of value that can be transferred between peers, such as frequent-flier points. But the debate, adeptly moderated by SurveyMonkey Chief Executive Officer Dave Goldberg, also showed why Bitcoin’s merits—anonymity, decentralization, lack of regulation—could be its downfall. The reason: government intervention.