Nasdaq CEO: Cryptocurrencies Are at ‘Height of Hype’

In an interview on Bloomberg Businessweek on June 5, Adena Friedman, president and CEO of Nasdaq Inc., said that cryptocurrencies are at “the height of a hype cycle” and can become a “financial element of the Internet.”

Speaking on how Nasdaq looks at disruptive technologies and instruments like cryptocurrencies, Friedman said that the corporation has been taking a research-oriented approach to when and whether they want to be involved in digital currencies. Friedman said that she believes the construct of cryptocurrency is beginning to become one the company can understand, and has potential to become a financial element of the Internet.

Friedman, stated that digital currency is “very much a speculative asset class,” that doesn’t naturally have a kind of foundation or purpose in terms of international commerce. She speculated that once cryptocurrencies become more mature, they will provide a “more seamless way for commerce to occur.” She added that while she did not know which cryptocurrency would “create that opportunity,” she believes that over time “there will be that utility.”

Friedman said that cryptocurrencies are at “[the] height of a hype cycle” with a great number of  players in the industry. Nasdaq, as per the CEO, has found its opportunity to become more involved in the industry by providing surveillance technologies and market information to some crypto exchanges.

Friedman also discussed blockchain, saying that while the technology is quite scalable, at the present time it cannot scale sufficiently to support their ultra-high volume of trading, although she said it could still possibly assist some markets. Friedman added:

“There are massive inefficiencies where there is paper instead of automation, where there’s really poor record keeping and everything’s in a drawer somewhere, like private securities. So we have to deploy blockchain into the private market, where you can find really long settlement cycles, and how [blockchain] can shorten those.”

The CEO said that she sees significant opportunities where blockchain is suitable, stating:

“I do think this continues to be a fascinating technology that could be quite disruptive over a long term. [It’s] hard to implement because it requires an entire network to deploy it simultaneously, but I think it’s something over the time could become a very interesting force of our business.”

In April, Friedman said that the stock market could become a platform for trading cryptocurrencies in the future, if the market becomes more regulated, saying that “certainly Nasdaq would consider becoming a crypto exchange over time.”