The head of Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution, does not find anything revolutionary or life-changing about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
German Gref, chairman and CEO of Russian state-controlled lender Sberbank, has described cryptocurrencies as “immature and overvalued,” adding that their tremendous popularity has resulted from attractive investment opportunities offered by these digital assets, Russian news agency TASS reports.
Gref shared his views on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology during a public lecture earlier this week in Moldovan capital Kishinev.
People view cryptocurrencies as a chance to make fast and easy money, which attracts new crypto followers and creates the “hype” around virtual currencies. As for blockchain technology, it is not yet mature enough to be called a game-changer, Gref told his audience. He had previously opined that it might take years before blockchain is adopted at scale in Russia.
On the other hand, Sberbank’s boss believes that artificial intelligence (AI) is “the absolute leader” in the technology area. Gref spoke of it as “new electricity” and “exponential growth driver,” adding that this technology has already become widely available to every user, with or without proper skills.
U-turn or adjustment?
These remarks might have come as an unpleasant surprise to the cryptocurrency community as Gref has been known as an open Bitcoin supporter among Russian officials, who are generally split over the cryptocurrency issue.
Last November, he stated that cryptocurrencies had become part and parcel of everyday life, no matter how authorities choose to treat them. In January this year, Gref again reaffirmed his stance, urging the Russian authorities to have patience and tolerance for cryptos and blockchain technology. TASS cited him as saying at the time:
“Before trying to regulate it, it is necessary to maintain a normal background around the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. It is necessary to explain to people that it does not store value, but right now is rather a very dangerous thing, like a lottery or a casino. It should not be banned, as it is a great new technology in development, which no one is yet able to comprehend.”
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