While most would never make the mistake of confusing the CEO of Swiss financial services giant, UBS Group, with a Bitcoin fan, Sergio Ermotti has recently admitted that blockchain technology is “definitely an opportunity” when viewed from a long-term perspective and as “almost a must-have for business.”
Speaking to CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera on Monday, Ermotti said, “It’s almost a must. The freeing up of resources to become more efficient will come through technology and blockchain is a great way to allow us to reduce costs.”
The UBS Group is currently one of a number of traditional banks that are involved in a blockchain-based global trade finance platform developed by IBM called Batavia. The consortium involved includes Bank of Montreal, CaixaBank, Commerzbank, and Erste Group, who jumped on board the project last year.
Ermotti is convinced that blockchain technology will be “as crucial and disruptive, and changing as regulation was in the last ten years.”
This follows on from comments he made last October that signaled a serious intent to get behind blockchain technology.
“I believe there is a future for blockchain technology, and that technology will play a big role in changing and reshaping our industry.”
Despite his support for the technology behind cryptocurrencies, his opinion on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin hasn’t changed all that much since he remarked last October that Bitcoin was in a “speculative bubble.”
“We think the sharp rise in cryptocurrency valuations in recent months is a speculative bubble,” UBS wrote in a white paper published in October. “The need for companies and individuals to pay tax receipts in government-issued currency, and the potentially unlimited crypto-money supply, pose significant barriers to widespread adoption.”
“If governments refuse to accept cryptocurrencies for tax payments, the single most important transaction in an economy, that significantly reduces demand for cryptocurrencies. Governments are highly unlikely to ever take this step.”
His opinions were mirrored by UBS Group Chief Investment Officer, Mark Haefele – only last year he referred to Bitcoin as risky.
However, the fact that UBS is part of the consortium involved with the aforementioned IBM-developed Batavia finance platform signals their intention, along with other leaders in the finance world, to look at cryptocurrency, and the blockchain technology that runs it, as two separate opportunities.
Skepticism of one doesn’t necessarily mean the same for the other, and seeing figures such as Sergio Ermotti claim that blockchain “is a great way” to increase efficiencies and reduce costs for individual operations is a boost for the reputation of blockchain technology.
Lover of all things crypto, blockchain and AI, professional tech scribe & part of the editorial team at Crypto Disrupt.