Nasdaq CEO: Crypto Could Still Be ‘Global Currency of Future’

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by Teuta Franjkovic · 4 min read
Nasdaq CEO: Crypto Could Still Be ‘Global Currency of Future’
Photo: Fortune Conferences / Flickr

Even as global market s become more digitized and automated, humans will remain essential to markets, according to Nasdaq President and Chief Executive Officer Adena Friedman.

One of the most positive trends with regards to cryptocurrency recently is the fact that more high-profile individuals in the finance world seem to have no problem acknowledging that there is massive potential in the sector. That trend appears to be strengthening, as none other than the CEO of NASDAQ has now openly praised cryptocurrency.

Adena Friedman says that cryptocurrency “deserves an opportunity to find a sustainable future in our economy,” in her post on LinkedIn.

Writing ahead of her appearance at the World Economic Forum at Davos this week, Friedman stated that Nasdaq believes crypto will have a role in the future, characterizing “the invention itself [as] a tremendous demonstration of genius and creativity.”

Thus far, she added, crypto has evolved through what she terms a classic invention lifecycle from its early path forged by pioneers in cryptography and economics, to a period of hype, the proliferation of new market entrants, and now, most recently, “a dose of reality.” Crypto thus stands at a crossroads, she says, poised between one of two outcomes:

“1) Either the innovation finds practical utility followed by years of steady and sustainable commercial progress and integration into the economic fabric (e.g., the Internet); or
2) The invention fails to achieve broad adoption and its commercial applications as medium of exchange are limited (e.g., the Segway).”

For many, that dose of reality is a real hard hitter. Over $400 billion has been wiped off the market capitalization of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin’s price has fallen from highs of $19,000 to lows of $3,200. Early investors may still be in profit, for those who joined the market on its way up, they are sure feeling the downside.

Friedman also said:

“It is difficult to ignore the huge amount that investors, including some of the most sophisticated global investors, have poured into digital currencies in recent years.”

She also highlighted that such a genius invention “deserves an opportunity to find a sustainable future in our economy.” That, she claims, will depend on governance and regulatory clarity both “antithetical” to a “decentralized, ungovernable” currency.

Adena Friedman noted that last year they were fortunate to have some great technology innovators, including Dropbox, DocuSign, Greensky, iQIYI , Stone, and Pinduoduo tap the public markets. In 2019, several of the biggest and most influential private tech companies founded in the last 20 years, all veterans of the CNBC Disruptor 50 list, were widely anticipated to go public.

These include consumer platforms for transportation as well as large-scale enterprise software companies, which combined, the top four could reach a market capitalization north of $200 billion.

As the large cap IPOs successfully come to market, it could spark a wave of additional venture-capital-backed startups moving toward the public markets. These companies have received several more rounds of capital than was typical in previous tech booms, with some venture-backed companies receiving funding through Series F, or six rounds of capital-raising.

She wrote:

“Therefore, by going public, their venture owners and early employees will have the opportunity to seek liquidity for their shares after experiencing many years of growth in their value. And as a leading global equity exchange, we are very excited to play our part in giving millions of new investors the opportunity to share in the future growth of these seminal companies by becoming their new owners.”

She mentioned that at Nasdaq they have enhanced their market surveillance technology by developing machine learning capabilities to analyze abnormal market events, turning it into an industry benchmark for real-time and T+1 solutions for market surveillance, supervision and compliance.

She added:

“More than 50 marketplaces and regulators around the world now use our technology. We are now turning our machine learning efforts to our broker-dealer surveillance solution, serving our 140+ banks and brokers with similar AI capabilities.

My view is that AI, if properly governed, will ultimately allow all industries to leverage the best of humans and machines together to create better, safer, and smarter solutions for our customers. In 2019, progress in this technological area will be steady, but with some breakthroughs that could change everything for years ahead. What will be the next big leap in this area of innovation: Quantum powered AI.”

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