Thomas Peterffy says he owns some cryptocurrency because ‘you have to play the odds’

Online brokerage pioneer Thomas Peterffy told CNBC on Wednesday he’s invested in cryptocurrencies, while still expressing skepticism over the long-term future of the digital asset class.

“Even I myself have put a little bit of money into crypto, because even though chances are, I think, that this is not going to be a viable market, I think that there’s a small chance that this will be a dominant currency, so you have to play the odds,” the billionaire founder and chairman of Interactive Brokers said on “Closing Bell.” He did not specify which cryptocurrency or cryptocurrencies he owns.

The remarks come as Interactive Brokers prepares to launch cryptocurrency trading by the end of summer, a move seen as noteworthy due to the e-broker’s reputation for serving more sophisticated clients.

Peterffy has previously been skeptical of bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market value, at previous points, particularly in 2017 as the CME prepared to launch bitcoin futures.

At that time, Peterffy told CNBC he had no problem with people who wanted to trade bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but he warned of “linking bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies by federal regulations to the real economy.”

Regarding Interactive Brokers’ upcoming launch of crypto trading, Peterffy said “several of our clients expressed an interest” in being able to invest in the digital assets. “And I completely understand it,” he said.

Many in the crypto community see bitcoin as a long-term store of value and express optimism about its ability, along with blockchain-based digital assets, to disrupt the traditional financial system. Jack Dorsey, the billionaire CEO of Twitter and fintech firm Square, said earlier Wednesday he hopes bitcoin “helps create world peace.”

Bitcoin was up nearly 7% Wednesday afternoon, trading around $31,800 per token. The historically volatile cryptocurrency traded as high as $32,765 on the day, according to Coin Metrics. The move higher came one day after bitcoin fell below $30,000 for the first time since June 22.

Bitcoin remains down about 50% from its all-time high near $65,000 in mid-April, around the time of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase’s public markets debut.

Further adoption of bitcoin by high-profile investors and institutions was seen as one reason for bitcoin’s massive rally that began last year and peaked in April. While bitcoin is slightly positive year to date, at this point in 2020, it traded below $10,000 per token.

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