Former US Treasury Secretary: Bitcoin Needs More Than Math to Succeed

Former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has argued bitcoin needs stronger regulation to succeed long term.

AccessTimeIconFeb 12, 2015 at 10:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 11:31 a.m. UTC

Former US Department of Treasury Secretary and advisor to President Barack Obama Lawrence Summers has argued that, in order for bitcoin succeed, the technology and those who support it will need to embrace regulation.

Summers' latest comments came on 11th February at the Museum of American Finance (MOAF) during an event entitled "Bitcoin and the Future of Payments Technology". The conversation was moderated by Wall Street Journal senior columnist Michael Casey and sponsored by investment company Voya Financial.

During the event, Summers voiced his opinion that bitcoin needs greater regulation if it is ever to achieve mainstream adoption, according to a report by The New York Times.

Summers remarked:

"If the day ever comes where bitcoin counts for an appreciable fraction of commerce that takes place in the world economy, on that day it will be because that commerce is regulated and subject to safeguards and people believe that something other than a mathematical algorithm is ensuring that their money will not be stolen."

To Summers, this means elements of the bitcoin community – including those who reject any form of financial regulation for the technology – will hamper the future development of bitcoin.

In the past, Summers has offered a cautiously positive perspective on bitcoin as a technology.

For example, he suggested in an April interview with The Wall Street Journal that critics shouldn't "write [bitcoin] off" or fight against the tide of innovation.

During the National Association for Business Economics policy conference in February of last year, Summers called bitcoin "an innovative approach" to solving problems in today's transaction infrastructure.

"Very serious economists thought that the Internet was going to be no more important than the fax machine, so I’m not willing to dismiss bitcoin," he said at the time.

In addition to his past accolades, Summers is also an advisor to Andresseen Horowitz, the VC firm that recently participated in bitcoin services provider Coinbase's recordbreaking $75m Series C.

Larry Summers image via Wikimedia


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