Bank of America CTO Says Bitcoin Is "Troubling"

Jordana Sacks
  • According to the Bank of America’s Cathy Bessant, the use of bitcoin and other virtual currencies as payment systems is ‘troubling’.
  • The tech officer has warned that customers will not be able to use the bank’s credit cards to purchase crypto anytime soon.

Bank of America official Cathy Bessant recently released a statement explaining the institution’s views on cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Claiming virtual currencies are impeding the ability of the authorities to catch ‘bad guys’, she posited that such payment systems are frequently being used for nefarious purposes.

Addressing one of the key criticisms of bitcoin and other cryptos, the chief technical officer explained that it was important to understand the differences between the main ways in which digital currencies are used:

“As a payment system, I think it’s troubling, because the foundation of the banking system is on the transparency between the sender and the receiver, and the cryptocurrency is designed to be nothing of the sort. In fact, [it’s] designed to be not transparent.”

Cathy Bessant

She added that this made it more difficult to police cyberspace and the transactions that take place there. Per the CTO’s words, the way financial institutions ‘catch the bad guys’ is through transparency “in the financial moment of money,” something she says cryptocurrencies are the antithesis of.

Although the organization's stance does not prohibit its customers from investing in bitcoin, it does mean that the credit cards they issue cannot be used to speculate in the crypto space.

Speaking on this decision, Ms. Bessant said:

“Just like we don’t allow stocks to be purchased on our credit cards, we’re not going to allow cryptos or other currencies to be purchased on our credit cards.”

Cathy Bessant

The tech officer added that such a move was in line with the bank’s constant drive to improve its security. This is a goal it believes it’s doing an admirable job of achieving, despite the fact that the on-going perception of certain data thieves as modern-day Robin Hoods can be problematic:

As an example, she used WikiLeaks. She said:

“Often times the hacker or the person who causes the leak and steals the data are considered heroic. We put Julian Assange on the cover of a magazine and call him person of the year, and yet WikiLeaks is in the business of stealing data.”

Cathy Bessant