Professor Nouriel Roubini Calls the Blockchain a 'Glorified Excel Spreadsheet'

Professor Nouriel Roubini, the economist nicknamed "Dr. Doom" for predicting the housing bubble crash of 2007-2008, who is one of the biggest crypto bears in the world, called the blockchain "a glorified Excel spreadsheet" at yesterday's panel on cryptocurrencies at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2018 in Beverley Hills, California. Naturally, this didn't go down well with the Bitcoin (BTC) and blockchain advocates at the panel, and the resulting "cryptobrawl" was by all reports quite entertaining.

Roubini, who teaches economics at New York University Stern School for Business, and who is quite famous for his generally bearish views on financial markets in general and blockchain/cryptocurrencies in particular, had previously launched several attacks on Bitcoin -- calling it "a Ponzi scheme", a "lousy" store of value, and "a conduit for criminal/illegal activities" and "the biggest bubble in human history" -- and the blockchain, calling it "one of the most overhyped technologies ever."

And, sitting at a panel, with Alex Mashinsky -- founder of Celcius Network, an Etherium-based peer-to-peer platform for lending/borrow (based on the idea of using your crypto holdings as collateral) -- and Bill Barhydt -- founder and CEO of Abra (the company that developed the Abra mobile app for cryptocurrency trading) -- Roubini didn't hold anything back.

“All this talk of decentralization is just bullsh*t,” said Roubini, which Mashinsky countered with "Everything you just said is irrelevant"; as for Barhydt, he said that he didn't "even know where to begin."

After the moderator, Anna Irrera, who is a Fintech correspondent for Reuters, asked for a timeout to let the parties cool off, another panel participant, Brent McIntosh, a lawyer who works for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, offered to "step in and regulate this panel."

When Mashinsky said crypto assets would let people bypass banks, Roubini replied “You’re just making stuff up."

Roubini also called Bitcoin a "bubble" and said that people who "arrived late to the party are the suckers." After hearing that Roubini had never even bought a single bitcoin, Mashinsky, told Roubini: "Why don’t you buy one coin and then tell us how it works." And Barhydt made fun of Roubini by saying "It’s like a horse salesman saying we don’t need combustion engines."

Despite Roubini's extremely bearish attitude towards cryptocurrencies, he is a little less critical when it comes to blockchain technologies and can see some use cases for them: "Ultimately, blockchain's uses will be limited to specific, well-defined, and complex applications that require transparency and tamper-resistance more than they require speed — for example, communication with self-driving cars or drones."

You Can Now Use Bitcoin to Buy Coke in Australia and New Zealand, USA Next?

Siamak Masnavi

On Tuesday (June 9), digital assets platform Centrapay, which is trying to change "the way consumers engage with brands and exchange value with merchants", announced that it had signed a deal with Coco-Cola Amatil (CCA), "one of the Asia-Pacific's largest bottlers and distributors of alcoholic and non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages, and one of the world's larger bottlers of The Coca-Cola Company range", to allow anyone to pay with crypto -- using the Sylo Smart Wallet -- for items sold by CCA's 2000+ vending machines (with a QR code payment sticker) in Australia and New Zealand.

Here is how Centrpay describes its vision:

"Centrapay is focused on democratising digital assets.  We are helping build the internet of value through beautiful consumer experiences, developer-friendly infrastructure, and intelligent tools that give everyone the ability to solve big problems."

And this is what Centrapay says about its digital assets platform:

"We have the tools, technology and merchant acceptance network so anyone can easily create, distribute, share and transact digital assets."

The idea is to allow brands/businesses to:

  • "Turn physical products into digital ones which can be used as currency to engage consumers"
  • "Distribute at scale and build a direct relationship with end users of your product"
  • "Transact digital products using existing payment infrastructure via Centrapay’s acceptance network"

Assuming you have already installed the Sylo Smart Wallet app on your iPhone or Android phone, here are the easy steps you need to follow to buy a drink from one of these vending machines:

  1. Use the vending machine's touchscreen to enter the code for the item you want to buy.
  2. Tap on the "Check Out" button on the touchscreen.
  3. Scan the QR code shown to you with the Sylo Smart Wallet app.
  4. Select the cryptoasset you wish to pay with from within the Sylo Smart Wallet and then tap the "Pay" button shown in the app.
  5. Collect the item item you just bought from the vending machine.

The video below from Centrapay demonstrates how quick and easy this process is:

Centrapay CEO Jerome Faury had this to say about a future his firm envisions "where value is transferred as easily and efficiently as information":

“We have solved both these issues. Centrapay is pioneering the way to enable this new internet of value and bring its benefits to both consumers and merchants...

“We’re working to create a future where individuals are in control of their own data and digital identity.

"Brands can connect directly and ethically with people, empowering them to make the right purchasing decision, whilst also supporting their retail and other distribution partners.

“Now we’ve shown how it can work in Australia and New Zealand, we’re looking to grow the business globally.

"We’ve established a presence in North America and will be targeting the US market next with some world-first innovations."

Featured Image by "MaximilianHemon" via Pixabay.com