Still, Summers said he disagreed with 2015 comments from JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon that virtual currency is "going to be stopped," and "no government will ever support a virtual currency that goes around borders and doesn't have the same controls."
"Jamie's a smart guy," Summers said. "But Bill Gates is a smart guy too and he said the internet's not going anyplace."
As for the cryptocurrency's future, Summers said several times that the government "will still enforce laws," but that certainty of bitcoin's demise is "not the right position to take."
But Summers also attempted to dash any hopes that bitcoin — which has been embraced by some pro-anarchism communities — could create anything like "a libertarian paradise." In fact, he said that existing laws about cross-border money transfers will "for sure, for sure, for sure" be changed to cover virtual currency.
Many firms are aiming to make Summers' prediction a reality, including Ripple, which hopes to use a variant of the technology to connect the global settlement network through the blockchain, and Circle, which is aiming to facilitate global peer-to-peer payments in part through bitcoin's network.
Blockchain technology has been the subject of increasingly ecstatic media and investor excitement as a fix for everything from medical records to global identification, but many at the blockchain-focused Consensus conference told CNBC there was an air of overhype.
"We don't think the blockchain can do most of what's been ascribed to it," Ripple CEO Chris Larsen said. "But we're entering the internet of value — and that is very much underhyped."