Wealthy remain curious but skeptical about bitcoin, says UBS CEO

Bitcoin
Stacks of bitcoins sit near green lights on a data cable terminal inside a communications room at an office in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

UBS Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti said the world’s wealthiest are staying on the sidelines when it comes to crypto-currencies.

“People are more curious than really willing to invest,” Ermotti said in a Bloomberg Television interview in New York on Tuesday. “I don’t think there’s any meaningful desire by high net worth individuals to take big bets on this kind of phenomenon.”

While JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon famously panned bitcoin last month, saying he’d fire traders who bet on it, many financial firms have been exploring ways to leverage the blockchain technology underpinning crypto-currencies. They’re increasingly responding to growing interest from clients to track and even trade the digital coins.

Bitcoin has surged more than 300 percent this year, drawing the attention of hedge funds and wealthy individuals. China cracked down on crypto-currency exchanges in September, while the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in July that sales of some new digital currencies would be subject to rules just as equities are.

“We believe existing currencies may move into becoming more of a crypto-currency,” Ermotti said. “We don’t really believe there’s much room for the creation of new currencies if there is no real backing for a hard and credible issuer of that currency.”

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Bloomberg