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Former PayPal CEO Bill Harris Battles Crypto Champion Brian Kelly Over Bitcoin

Bill Harris, the former CEO of PayPal is probably most famous for referring to Bitcoin as the greatest scam of all time. Brian Kelly on the other hand is a crypto entrepreneur, famous for his bullish optimism and his role as a crypto hedge fund manager.

Therefore, pitting the pair against each other on television was sure to be both insightful, and a little entertaining.

According to Cryptoglobe, the pair battled it out on CNBC’s Fast Money, in a special segment called The Great Bitcoin Debate, a debate that started off with the following statement by Harris:

“The cult of Bitcoin makes many claims: that it is instant, free, scalable, efficient, secure, globally accepted, and useful. It is none of those things.”

Referring to Bitcoin as a cult, is powerful if a little patronising, and it certainly seemed to rile Kelly ready to respond to Harris’ claims. Here’s some of the points made by the duo:

Kelly:

“PayPal works great. I mean, the Russian hackers were able to buy all kinds of ads on Google with PayPal this year So, [it] works very well. And I agree with you. All your criticisms [are] 100% correct, but to me as investor, I say those are catalysts for the future. As those things improve — I mean, we are not going to stay at seven transactions per second — we’re going to be scale. We have to. Otherwise, it is going to go to zero like you said. But I guess my question for you is… Let’s step back from the trading of the token because what we are really looking there is liquid venture capital, it could be worth $6000, it could be worth $20,000. But the idea that Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies are a software program that allows you to disintermediate parts of financial services, do you find any value in that?”

Harris responds:

“No. I think the problem statement is correct. For instance, one of the things that Bitcoin who love Bitcoin or XRP [say] is look at how difficult it is to get money from one country across the border to another. It’s slow, it’s expensive, it’s all those things. Agreed. You don’t need Bitcoin. You don’t need XRP. You don’t need any of that to solve that problem. What you need is faster networks.”

Faster networks, such as those supplied by blockchain technology?

The debate continued on:

Kelly:

“The advantage is… in the U.S., we don’t have a broken financial system, but if you are in a country that does have a broken financial system, that’s certainly the advantage. It could be the internet of money. If you are going cross-border, that’s one way to use it. I mean, there’s multiple use cases…”

Harris responds:

“But the largest countries out there, China and India, they have much better real-time payment systems than we do in the U.S. So does the EU. So does the UK. I mean, it’s not like we’ve got something functional and the rest of the world doesn’t. No, actually, they are ahead of us.”

Kelly responds:

“That doesn’t mean that Bitcoin doesn’t have a use case, that it goes to zero. Nobody uses gold anymore, and it’s worth $1200 an ounce as well… I mean, when we started Amazon, nobody thought that you’d be streaming movies to a handheld computer. It was an online bookstore.”

Harris responds:

“We’ve got digital currencies. And we’ve got digital currencies that are more stable, more widely accepted, and have intrinsic value. We’ve already got them: it’s called the dollar, the yen, you name it… It’s surely, not scalable. You said seven transactions per second…”

You can see a more indepth transcript of The Great Bitcoin Debate for yourself, here.  

What is our take on this?

It’s all a bit daft isn’t it? CNBC have done this as a little publicity stunt in order to help get their piece a bit of exposure, but I guess another motive exists in the fact they want to start getting people talking about cryptocurrency and Bitcoin. This sort of broadcast hits the mainstream and I suppose in this instance, two sides of the debate are offered, as opposed to just the one. Realistically though, they could have chosen less passionate people to actually lead the debate, but then I guess that wouldn’t be as entertaining to watch, thus rendered useless in terms of ‘getting views’ for CNBC.


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Adrian has been leading teams in the finance sector for over a decade. He is highly experienced, and is responsible for ensuring that the latest news is delivered to you as it is breaking. He has a keen interest in virtual currencies, and has even made investments himself, so is incredibly passionate when it comes to writing about this topic. He knows the news pieces that are interesting to the reader, so will ensure that he keeps you up to date on all of the relevant news in the cryptocurrency world.