By Peter High. Published on Forbes.
Matt Harris has been investing in FinTech companies since before the term was coined. He was initially drawn to the field partially due to the lack of attention it was getting 20 years ago. I recently caught up with him, and we covered the core four segments of FinTech: payments, lending, investing, and insurance. (He also argues in this this interview that real estate is worthy for consideration as a fifth segment.) The broader interview will be published shortly. Of interest in this segment of our interview was his contrarian perspective on blockchain. He is an investor in crypto-currencies, which he personally invests in, and shares the reasons why he believes blockchain is a hammer in search of nails.
(To listen to an unabridged podcast version of this interview, please click this link. This is the 30th interview in the Tech Influencers series. To listen to past interviews with the likes of former Mexican President Vicente Fox, Sal Khan, Sebastian Thrun, Steve Case, Craig Newmark, Stewart Butterfield, and Meg Whitman, please visit this link. To read future articles in this series, please follow me on on Twitter @PeterAHigh.)
Peter High: You are on the investment committee of a digital currency group, which you have referred to as a firm that provides a front-row seat to cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Cryptocurrencies, specifically Bitcoin, have been in the news quite a bit over the past few years as fortunes have been made and lost because of cryptocurrencies’ extraordinary volatility. What is your thought process on the evolution of cryptocurrencies, and how bullish are you in that space?
Matt Harris: I have been referred to as a Bitcoin maximalist because as it relates to crypto assets, I tend to be dramatically more bullish on Bitcoin than any of the other currencies or assets that have been developed. While I believe fixing prices is all inherently speculative, I get the use case for Bitcoin, and I have spent hundreds of hours speaking to owners of Bitcoin. While there are unfortunately no users of Bitcoin, the owners of Bitcoin tend to believe in it the same way people have believed in gold as a store of value for millennia. This store of value is not necessarily seen as stable on a short-term basis, but it is seen as a store of value that is divorced from the whims of governments and the inflationary tendencies of fiat currencies. It is instinct, rather than universal. Similar to many people, I have never owned gold in my life, but roughly five percent of people with means end up owning gold, and they view it as a hedge against inflation and chaos. For this new generation of mostly young people, the idea that gold has inherent value makes little sense. Frankly, other than the fact that gold has been valued that way for hundreds of years, there is no inherent logic in gold being valuable, so Bitcoin is far more appealing to this demographic.