Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak spoke to CNBC about the future of Bitcoin, saying he hopes it will become the single global currency.
Wozniak was speaking to CNBC at the Money20/20 conference on Monday. “I believe super strongly in mathematics and purity and science as defining the world,” he said, adding that Bitcoin is tied to those ideals – and is surviving.
“Bitcoin is mathematically defined; there is a certain quantity of Bitcoin; there’s a way it’s distributed… and it’s pure and there’s no human running, there’s no company running and it’s just… growing and growing… and surviving, that to me says something that is natural – and nature is more important than all our human conventions,” he said.
Bitcoin traded at around $7,410 on Tuesday, having reached an all-time high just shy of $20,000 six months ago. Bitcoin transactions have reportedly slipped to around 200,000 per day, down from a peak of around 400,000 in December.
Wozniak said he initially bought Bitcoin (at $700) to experiment on how to ‘buy things online’. “So I sold off all my Bitcoin except one, which I kept to experiment with now. And I have two Ether (the payment token of the the Ethereum network).”
“I am not an investor, that was not my purpose at all,” Wozniak said.
He said that Ethereum is a platform. “Only Bitcoin is pure digital gold…that’s the phrase that’s used and I totally buy into that. All of the others tend to give up some of the aspects of Bitcoin. How is the math on Bitcoin so correct that it still works.”
Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey recently said he expects to see Bitcoin adopted as global means of payment. “I buy into what Jack Dorsey says – not that I necessarily believe it’s going to happen, but because I want it to be that way, that is so pure thinking,” Wozniak told CNBC . He said that cryptocurrencies will achieve their full potential in a decade.
A contrasting view
Meanwhile, short seller Jim Chanos, who predicted the fall of Enron Corp, said of Bitcoin: “It will fail in a crisis”.
Fiat currencies such as the dollar have advantages when things go awry, because governments can enforce their use and act as lenders of last resort, Chanos said in an interview with the Institute for New Economic Thinking published on Monday. Digital coins, on the other hand, have no such backing.
“For those who believe that you need to own digital currency as a store of value in the worst-case scenario, that’s exactly the case in which a digital currency will work the least,” he said. “The last thing I’d want to own is Bitcoin if the grid goes down.”
Food would be better, he said.
The past year’s euphoria over Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies fits into the ‘fraud cycle’, in which people grow less skeptical during long periods of market gains, plowing into investments that would normally seem too good to be true, he said.
The bull market of the 1990s culminated with accounting scandals such as Enron’s. Later, another run led to the global financial crisis of 2008, he said.
“We’re now nine years into this bull market, same as the ’90s, so I suspect that now things are starting to percolate,” he said, singling out Bitcoin and initial coin offerings for other tokens. “This is simply a security speculation game masquerading as a technological breakthrough in monetary policy.”