SoftBank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son is clearly no stranger to change. In his time at the helm of the Japanese tech conglomerate, he has backed everything from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to U.S. telecommunications provider Sprint, and currently holds a 5.5 percent stake in Uber. But Son is hesitant about bitcoin, and isn’t sure the cryptocurrency will succeed in the long term. In an interview with Bloomberg TV on Monday, Son revealed that he had been skeptical about bitcoin since the Silk Road scandal of 2013, when the FBI shut down the marketplace for illegal goods and services. (Bitcoin was the digital currency of choice for Silk Road.)
Tesla’s play on bitcoin (BTC) may have sparked a race in the corporate world to invest in cryptocurrencies, but SoftBank still prefers a more conservative approach. In response to questions during SoftBank’s press conference, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son admitted that he didn’t know if cryptocurrencies were good or bad.
There’s a lot of debate about whether it’s good or bad, what the real value is or whether it’s a bubble – I honestly don’t know, Sohn said, according to Bloomberg.
Mr. Sohn did not comment on reports of large purchases of bitcoins by major companies like Tesla and Square. He compared cryptocurrencies to more traditional commodities, stating:
The popularity of cryptocurrencies has made them an indispensable platform, similar to diamonds and bonds.
He also added that SoftBank is constantly having internal discussions about cryptocurrencies and there is no reason to give up on them.
Last year, Sohn said he spent about five minutes a day monitoring bitcoin’s price fluctuations. But that proved to be a distraction and kept him from focusing on his own business, he said. Sohn also reportedly lost $130 million through bitcoin investments in 2019.
Earlier this year, SoftBank Group’s telecom division joined the Japan Security Token Association, a group of protection and self-regulatory bodies that exist in the Japanese cryptocurrency and blockchain space.
Japan’s financial ecosystem, known as an early adopter of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general, seems to be focusing on the blockchain part of cryptocurrencies lately. The country’s three largest banks are conducting an experiment with digital yen in collaboration with private sector participants. The aim is to accelerate the introduction of cashless payments in the country, where about 80% of transactions are still made in cash.
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