Ken Griffin, the billionaire founder and CEO of hedge fund Citadel, said blockchain is a promising technology and shouldn’t be confused with the cryptocurrency bitcoin, which shows signs of being in a bubble.
"Bitcoin right now has many of the elements of the tulip bulb mania we saw back hundreds of years ago in Holland," he said in an interview on financial news channel CNBC. “I think what is happening is people confuse bitcoin with blockchain."
Bitcoin has risen 50 percent in November to a high of $9,732.76 per coin, according to CoinDesk. The cryptocurrency’s nearly tenfold rise in a year has many people worried about an unstable bubble that may collapse and wreak havoc on the financial system.
"I get very worried that people that are buying bitcoins don't really understand what they're participating in other than the headline stories that it keeps going higher and 'I want to make sure I don't miss this opportunity to make some money,'" Griffin said. "So is it a fraud? No. But these bubbles tend to end in tears. And I worry about how this bubble might end."
Griffin started Citadel from his dorm room at Harvard in 1990 and has grown it to more than $27 billion in assets under management. Forbes magazine estimated that Griffin has a net worth of $8.6 billion.
One worry is the participation of retail investors, who traditionally have a habit of buying assets when their prices are soaring amid a sense of fearlessness and euphoria. Individual investors have been opening cryptocurrency accounts at a breakneck pace in the past week as the bitcoin surges toward $10,000.
Coinbase, a platform for trading cryptocurrencies, has added at least 300,000 users since just before the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 22, according to data collected by Alistair Milne, co-founder of the Altana Digital Currency Fund.
Coinbase has almost tripled its customers in the past year to 13.3 million as of Nov. 26, Bloomberg News reported. The company Coinbase’s mobile app was trending Monday in Apple’s app store, where it ranks at No. 4 in the finance category.
A blockchain is a continuously growing list of computerized records, called blocks, that are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data, according to Wikipedia. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.
The first distributed blockchain was conceptualzed in 2008 by an anonymous person or group known as Satoshi Nakamoto and implemented in 2009 as a core component of bitcoin where it serves as the public ledger for all transactions.
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