Bitcoin is 'not for me' but it's too 'arrogant' to say it won't have a future, Goldman Sachs CEO says

  • "If you could go through that fiat currency where they say this is worth what it's worth because I, the government, says it is, why couldn't you have a consensus currency?" Lloyd Blankfein said.
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
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Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein does not own bitcoin, but he did not rule out Tuesday the cryptocurrency having a future.

During a talk at the The Economic Club of New York, the banker struck an optimistic tone on bitcoin.

He explained how the world moved from gold to fiat currencies that we have today backed by government. Using that example, he said he could see a world where a cryptocurrency could exist.

"If you could go through that fiat currency where they say this is worth what it's worth because I, the government, says it is, why couldn't you have a consensus currency?" Blankfein said.

"And so it's not for me, I don't do it, I own no bitcoin. Goldman Sachs as far as I know... has no bitcoin, but if it does work out, I could give you the historical path why that could have happened."

Blankfein has been more open than some on Wall Street about bitcoin. For example, J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon famously shot down the cryptocurrrency calling it a "fraud." Blankfein said that he does not want to dismiss it.

"I'm not in this school of saying... because it's uncomfortable with me, because it's unfamiliar, this can't happen, that's too arrogant," Blankfein said.

Goldman Sachs has started a cryptocurrency trading desk and recently made its first hire. Experts expect other banks could follow.

But bitcoin has often been criticized for being a speculative bubble after hitting a record high price of nearly $20,000 last year and since falling to below $7,000.

It has also not displayed the characteristics of an actual currency. For example, transaction times and fees are extremely high. Kristo Kaarmann, CEO of money transfer start-up TransferWise, said in a recent CNBC interview that the Egyptian pound is more useful than bitcoin.

Still, many advocates are still hopeful that bitcoin could become mainstream. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently said he believes bitcoin will become the single global currency. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told CNBC in a recent interview that he hopes this will happen too.