Nouriel Roubini Attacks Blockchain in Latest Rant

Professor Nouriel Roubini Goes After ‘Blockchain’ In Latest Rant


NYU economics professor Nouriel Roubini, commonly known as Dr. Doom in mainstream financial media circles, is a long-established Bitcoin and cryptocurrency skeptic. In his latest rant he focuses on blockchain technology and the people promoting it.

Also Read: Research: Corporations Fail to Deliver on Blockchain Hype, Scalability a Top Concern

Greedy White Men

Professor Nouriel Roubini Goes After ‘Blockchain’ In Latest RantRoubini, who recently testified before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee about blockchain, had a few angles of attack against the promoters of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in his latest article, The Big Blockchain Lie. Noting that blockchain has been heralded as a potential solution for everything from famine to cancer, he called it the most over-hyped technology in human history.

The professor explains that, “in practice, blockchain is nothing more than a glorified spreadsheet.” However, he also claims it has been able to create an “economic hell.” This is because Roubini categories developers and entrepreneurs as “a few self-serving white men pretending to be messiahs for the world’s impoverished, marginalized, and unbanked masses.” As for the supposed ideology behind them, he states: ”Blockchain is not about decentralization and democracy; it is about greed.”

Excel Spreadsheet With a Misleading Name

Professor Nouriel Roubini Goes After ‘Blockchain’ In Latest RantBesides ad hominem attacks, which Roubini has previously been fiercely criticized for, the economist actually makes some valid points about why so-called corporate blockchains touted by big banks, governments and other established powers are not decentralized. Such institutions would never want to have the transparency it would bring, or, as he explains it, “There is no institution under the sun that would put its balance sheet or register of transactions, trades, and interactions with clients and suppliers on public decentralized peer-to-peer permissionless ledgers.”

Moreover, he notes that in cases where so-called enterprise DLT solutions are actually being used by established organizations, they have nothing to do with blockchain. He explains that these are private, centralized, recorded on just a few controlled ledgers, require permission for access, and are based on trusted authorities. As for all the DLT trials constantly being spoken about in the press, Roubini says that whenever blockchain has been piloted in a traditional setting, “it has either been thrown in the trash bin or turned into a private permissioned database that is nothing more than an Excel spreadsheet or a database with a misleading name.”

Does Roubini make any valid arguments in dismissing blockchain technology? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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The US Is Behind the Curve on Cryptocurrency Adoption, Says WEF Blockchain Head

Sheila Warren believes the United States is behind the curve on cryptocurrency payment adoption. The head of the World Economic Forum’s blockchain policy unit says the maturity of the e-commerce arena in Asia has the U.S. playing second fiddle.

Asia Leads the World in Cryptocurrency Payment Technology

In an op-ed published on CNN Business on Monday (October 15, 2018), Warren declared that, despite the sweeping digital currency payment revolution in places like Japan and China, the U.S. still sees greater reliance on cash transactions. Quoting data from iResearch, Warren revealed that mobile payments in China reached $5.5 trillion in 2016 whereas U.S. figures stood at $112 billion.

Warren argues that Asia’s adoption of cryptocurrency payments comes from the popularity of e-commerce in the region. Before the emergence of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, many Asians were already involved in a buoyant virtual assets trading market. Speaking earlier in the year, BitMEX chief Arthur Hayes offered this same explanation as to the reason for higher trading volumes in Asia than the United States.

Asia has a higher cryptocurrency trading volume than the United States.

For these Asian nations embracing the emerging digital payment revolution, they stand to reap the rewards of reduced transaction costs, faster settlement times, and improved transparency. The immutable blockchain ledger which records transactions is, theoretically, free from manipulation.

Outside Asia, places like Switzerland and Malta are also working out modalities to adopt blockchain-based solutions. These countries aspire to become hubs for decentralized technology development.

Technology Does Not Understand Boundaries

For the U.S., apart from card transactions, cash is still king in many places. Warren opines that it is a lot easier for a society dominated by digital payments to embrace cryptocurrency payments than for one still dominated by cash to make the same move.


However, despite the reticence of the U.S. to embrace cryptocurrency payments, technology does not understand boundaries. Commenting on this issue, Warren said:

The rate of acceleration of adoption is likely to continue to increase, meaning that those economies that don’t start encouraging the creation of a robust digital payment infrastructure, complete with the necessary investments in infrastructure and accompanying regulation, are going to find it increasingly challenging to catch up.

In late September, stakeholders in the industry issued a warning to the U.S. Congress that the country risked losing out on innovations if the regulatory landscape doesn’t improve.

Do you think the United States is lagging behind other developed nations in cryptocurrency adoption? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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ETC Labs Launches Incubator Pilot Program to Support Ethereum Classic Based Startups

In a recent interview, the Program Director at ETC Labs talks about the intent behind the incubator program and the future growth plans.

An Incubator Based in San Francisco

ETC (Ethereum Classic) Labs earlier this week published an interview with Elizabeth Kukka, Program Director at ETC Labs, on its official Medium blog. Kukka talks about her contribution to ETC Labs, the pilot program, future growth plans, and her thoughts on the ETC blockchain.

ETC labs is a start-up incubator established by a group of entrepreneurs and technologists to help accelerate innovative projects on the Ethereum Classic blockchain. The program aims to provide budding entrepreneurs with office space, advice, support, and access to a community of peers with a mission to grow the ETC eco-system.

Ethereum Classic is the original version of the Ethereum blockchain. The blockchain was forked in 2016 to recover the $50 million worth of coins that were siphoned off from the funds collected during the DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organisation) ICO. A part of the community that did not favor the hard fork continued to support the original protocol now called ETC.

Great Opportunity for ETC Based Projects

Great Opportunity for ETC Based Projects

In response to a question about details of the pilot program, Kukka explained that the goal is to put the incubator model to work and gather feedback from the initial projects before going live in the first quarter of 2019.

She shared:

Our pilot program started on October 1st; we invited six companies to join us. Currently, these pilot projects get free working space, great coffee ;), and the opportunity to work alongside some of the best minds in the business. They will also have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a roomful of investors at our launch event on October 25th.

The program has received 120 applications so far and projects that leverage the ETC blockchain would be considered.

Answering why the program is focused on Ethereum Classic, Kukka responded:

Ethereum Classic because there is a lot of security on the main layer, and it doesn’t really matter what sidechains are used in conjunction to this. Also, the Ethereum Classic space is very competitive, with a lot of good ideas and startups with immense potential for growth.

Future Plans of the Program

ETC Labs plans to support 20-24 projects every year out of which half would be engaged with, at a time. Elaborating on the criteria that the program would evaluate the applicants on, Kukka said,” We look at the technical capabilities of the team and their ability to build on the ETC blockchain. Of course, great ideas and a motivated team are important too.”

Kukka encourages start-ups with great ideas to get in touch with ETC Labs. Projects will gain access to not only some great coffee and free working space but also to the opportunity for one-on-one guidance from industry leaders and technical mentors.

She adds:

We’ll have regular boot camp sessions with general blockchain training and how to build on ETC specifically. We also plan to host weekly meetups and monthly dinners. The weekly meetups will mostly be structured workshops with speeches by industry leaders from all sorts of different backgrounds.

ETC Labs appears to be an attempt by the believers in the original version of the Ethereum blockchain to push for growth of the community. For bootstrapped start-ups, the program provides an excellent opportunity to build upon their ideas and get access to the required support system.

Do you feel that the ETC Labs program will help in the growth of the Ethereum Classic blockchain ecosystem? Let us know in the comments below.

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