The Future or a Cult? Clashing Opinions on Cryptocurrency in Mainstream Media

Polarizing opinions have flooded mainstream media surrounding cryptocurrencies recently, highlighted by Penn Financial Group founder Matt McCall encouraging investors to buy the dip on CNN and former PayPal CEO Bill Harris calling cryptocurrency a cult on CNBC’s Fast Money.

Penn Financial Group Founder Says Cryptocurrency is the Future

Despite Bitcoin‘s nearly 70 percent price fall this year and being presented with analyst data suggesting Bitcoin’s price would fall to zero, Penn Financial Group Founder Matt McCall argued on CNN recently that Bitcoin remains a winning investment:

“You have to be a certain type investor to stomach this,” said McCall. “But if you’re considering cryptocurrencies or you have been in them before, I think this is a great opportunity to get in. I love them long term.”

McCall warned that a 50 percent upswing of the world’s leading cryptocurrency could just as easily be followed by another 50 percent crash, but he believes the blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies will change the way every industry does business in the coming decades.

“I believe that positioning yourself in cryptocurrencies is a great play.”

McCall added that cryptocurrency provides a promising alternative to the dubious nature of un-backed government fiat, noting the recent crash of the Turkish Lira.

“Look at the cryptocurrencies. That’s where the younger generation is going to be looking.”

Indeed, cryptocurrency appears to be a young person’s game. Recent research by industry leading survey companies like The Harris Poll and Gallup shows that nearly half of people aged 19-49 are intrigued by Bitcoin, compared to 73 percent of those over the age of 65 having no interest in cryptocurrency at all.

McCall concluded his interview stating that the people who write off cryptocurrency are no different than those claiming the Internet would play no role in e-commerce during the 1990s and early 2000s.

“They’re the same people in my mind,” said McCall.

Suggested Reading: Learn more about Bitcoin in our Bitcoin Beginner’s Guide.

Former PayPal CEO Calls Cryptocurrency a Cult

In contrast to McCall’s optimism, former PayPal CEO Bill Harris appeared on CNBC’s Fast Money yesterday reaffirming his belief that cryptocurrency is a colossal pump-and-dump scheme, and that Bitcoin is the greatest scam in history. Harris said in a recent interview segment that he wouldn’t be surprised if Bitcoin’s price headed straight to zero.

“If you like buying into weakness you will have a lot of opportunity to do that,” said Harris. “There’s just no value [in cryptocurrency]. You can sum it up this way: the cult of Bitcoin make many claims, that its instant, free, scalable, secure, globally accepted and useful. It is none of those things.”

Referring to Bitcoin’s slow transaction speeds, Harris emphasized that Bitcoin will simply never be scalable.

When pressed by CNBC on if Harris sees any value in cryptocurrencies as a software program capable of dis-intermediating parts of financial services, Harris doubled down, stating that the potential financial services used in cryptocurrency technology have no value whatsoever.

Despite agreeing that cross country monetary transactions are slow and expensive, Harris asserted that “You don’t need Bitcoin, XRP or any of that to solve that problem. What you need is faster networks. I’ll point out that big countries like China and India have much better payment systems than we do in the US. So does the EU, So does the UK. It’s not like we have something that’s functioning and the rest of the world doesn’t; no actually they’re ahead of us.”

Interestingly, China and India have both imposed some of the world’s strictest regulations against cryptocurrencies—perhaps mirroring the attitudes reflected in Harris’ argument. The former Paypal CEO concluded his interview stating,

“We’ve got digital currencies, and we’ve got digital currencies that are more stable, more widely accepted and have intrinsic value. We’ve already got them. It’s called the dollar, the Yen, you name it… I believe there is a heck of a lot of investment opportunity in financial technology. I’ve been investing in financial technology for 20 years. But what we do is build things that are useful, that are better than the alternative, and I see absolutely no reason why Bitcoin is useful. Its volotility alone makes it useless as a payment mechanism and ridiculous as a store of value.”

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