Bitcoin and crypto-currencies popular in Davos

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has started in Davos, Switzerland, and crypto-currencies seem to ride an expected tide of popularity this year. The prestigious forum, which gathers political leaders, high-ranked managers and academics, is usually not considered a Bitcoin-friendly place, after public comments criticizing Bitcoin were made last year.

Times change. As noted by CNBC, “Bitcoin finds a place among the world’s elite”“Davos attendees can use digital currencies for a range of options this year such as paying for apartments, taking a toboggan trip or even splashing out on a new Nissan.”, comments the article, noting that, for the first time ever, the WEF will host tomorrow a seminar entirely devoted to Bitcoin, named “From bucks to bitcoin”.

Although only the expression of a personal view, an article titled “5 ways digital currencies will change the world” was also published today on the official website of the forum. The author, Susan Athey, The Economics of Technology Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an advisor to Ripple Labs, explains:

“The way banks move money today is archaic. […] By using a digital currency such as Bitcoin, bank transfers could be made instantly, cheaply and safely. In fact, such transfers could even happen without using new currencies. Ripple supports a protocol that allows clients to transfer funds from one currency to another (say, dollars to euros) using a secure digital ledger. Their technology moves money around the globe in seconds…”

At a private session hosted by Time yesterday, LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman seemed supportive of Bitcoin too. According to the magazine“Hoffman’s hope for the coming year centered on the digital currency, Bitcoin, which he said could open up the advantages of banking to regions of the world that do not yet benefit from the banking system. He envisaged Bitcoin’s potential impact on the developed world also; for example, the currency might make easier all financial transactions related to driving, including paying tolls and paying for parking.”