Geopolitical analyst George Friedman says blockchain will become 'obsolete'

  • "I've never known any encryption technology not to be broken," Geopolitical Futures founder George Friedman told CNBC on Thursday from the sidelines of the UBS CIO Global Forum in New York.
  • "It's useful. It's visible," he said. But "at some point it'll be obsolete."
  • Some analysts have noted that if and when an emerging technology called quantum computing matures, it could easily decrypt blockchain.
George Friedman
Jordan Naylor | WireImage | Getty Images
George Friedman

Respected geopolitical analyst George Friedman thinks blockchain, the technology underlying bitcoin, will one day become "obsolete."

"I've never known any encryption technology not to be broken," Friedman told CNBC on Thursday from the sidelines of the UBS CIO Global Forum in New York. "I doubt between Russia, China, U.S. intelligence services" that blockchain can't be decrypted.

"It's useful. It's visible," he said. But "at some point it'll be obsolete."

Friedman is founder of online publication Geopolitical Futures and the author of "The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century." His views on the world often run contrary to mainstream thought. For example, he expects the U.S. will remain a dominant power, while China will struggle and is not as strong of a global player as others think.

Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that soared well over 1,000 percent last year, is the first application of blockchain. The technology eliminates the need for a third-party intermediary such as a bank by quickly and securely recording transactions between two parties by using encryption technology.

Since the development of bitcoin, hundreds of other cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects have emerged. Proponents say blockchain can one day change the world as much as the internet did.

Some analysts have noted that if and when an emerging technology called quantum computing matures, it could easily decrypt blockchain. However, they emphasize such a scenario is still years away and blockchain technology itself may also have evolved by that point.

Friedman said blockchain is "one of those hypes. People [are] profiting from it, making extraordinary claims about it."

Investors have poured more than $9 billion into new cryptocurrency projects called initial coin offerings this year, according to financial research firm Autonomous Next.

— CNBC's Miguel Pineda contributed to this report.