Cryptocurrency the ‘Right Next Step in the Space of Currency’: Nasdaq CEO

Nasdaq chief executive Adena Friedman is bullish on cryptocurrency, though she says the “jury is still out” on which particular coin or token will ultimately be the one to experience mass adoption.

Speaking on the latest episode of podcast Boss Files, Friedman said that cryptocurrency feels like the “right next step in the space of currency” because a “globalized payment mechanism” is a natural fit for the cross-border digital economy.

She said:

“How it evolves and which of the cryptocurrencies may or may not be the one that ultimately gets embraced, I think that really the jury is still out on that. But I do think the idea of a more globalized payment mechanism that is more efficient than what we have today allows for money to transfer across countries and certainly supports the Internet economy.”

As we reported, Friedman has said in the past that Nasdaq is exploring launching a bitcoin futures product designed to function as a long-term investment, and she has also expressed openness to opening a cryptocurrency exchange in the future once the market is more mature.

Elsewhere in the interview, Friedman lauded the promise of blockchain technology, explaining that it “takes a lot of risk out of the system and therefore it makes it so that the banks don’t have to be as capital intensive. And that’s a big incentive.”

That said, she does not expect blockchain technology to transform the financial system overnight. She said that she anticipates it will take place gradually, first in markets characterized by less regulation or high levels of inefficiency.

“The first uses of the blockchain will be in the less regulated markets, less efficient markets, more bespoke markets. Test it out, show that it works, demonstrate the efficiency in the Nasdaq private market or in the fund industry,” Friedman said. “It takes a village to make it work, but people are going to be highly motivated if we show that the use cases bring a lot of efficiency.”

That village, she added, includes government regulators, and how they respond to this nascent but burgeoning field will have a profound impact on its development.

“Are the governments going to start to embrace it? Or are they still going to have it sit outside the realm of their oversight? That’s the real question that’s yet to be answered,” Friedman concluded. “I think the technology is fascinating and it’s a very sound technology. It’s just a matter of making sure that the community is all embracing it together.”

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