NatWest chair warns against “gambling” with cryptocurrency
NatWest chair Sir Howard Davies has warned against investing in cryptocurrency, quoting Dante’s Inferno in suggesting those who do should “abandon all hope”.
The British economist’s hyperbolic remarks were made in a televised discussion held by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation.
The chair of the banking giant believes that cryptocurrency is “gambling … with a sort of libertarian veneer on top of it.
“You should put a big sign on the door saying, Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here,” referring to the inscription over the gates of hell in the 14th-century epic poem.
Davies, who is also a former director of the London School of Economics, a professor at Sciences Po in Paris and a former director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, says he applauds China’s “instinct” following its recent ban on the mining and trading of cryptocurrencies.
The industry veteran’s comments on crypto are consistent with NatWest’s hostile approach to decentralised currencies.
NatWest board member Morten Friis said in April the bank has “no appetite” for customers who are in the cryptocurrency business.
However, Davies’ comments could be seen to go against the flow of increasing mainstream acceptance and the growing appeal of cryptocurrencies.
Despite the lack of regulation, financial firms and central banks are sniffing an opportunity and moving into the space.
Last month, Mastercard acquired blockchain security start-up CipherTrace as part of a burgeoning crypto strategy.
Central bank digital currencies are being trialed in multiple countries, ranging from Bhutan to Nigeria, while payments giant PayPal has introduced the buying, selling and holding of four cryptocurrencies on its platform.
But the volatile asset class has also seen censure from other financial figures including the US SEC’s Gary Gensler, who testified before the US Senate last month that his agency would bring the ‘Wild West’ of crypto in line with existing financial laws and regulations.