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Wall Street Journal jumps on the ‘long blockchain, unsure about bitcoin’ bandwagon

The newspaper’s tech columnist joins the chorus of voices ready to praise blockchain but unwilling to commit to bitcoin.

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal, in case you’ve never seen it before (via Shutterstock).

With bitcoin prices bouncing around from day to day and even minute to minute, it’s incredibly difficult to tie down finance professionals to a concrete prediction on where the cryptocurrency is heading.

Nobody wants to be wrong, after all, and with cryptocurrencies’ extreme volatility, it’s highly likely that their predictions could be very wrong.

So how do finance gurus handle the topic of bitcoin’s future without painting themselves into a corner? Increasingly, they avoid the question and talk about blockchain instead. Recently, it’s practically the default response of people in the industry to start singing the praises of blockchain when anyone asks them about bitcoin.

Wall Street Journal tech columnist Christopher Mims is the latest to jump on the bandwagon, penning an article titled Why Blockchain Will Survive, Even If Bitcoin Doesn’t.” Practically ignoring the fate of bitcoin, Mims instead focuses on extolling the praises of the blockchain technology that enables it. In fact, even the word “bitcoin” is only mentioned once in the entire article—in the first sentence. Subsequently, Mims highlights the potential for blockchain to transform areas unrelated to finance, from food safety to real estate.

Mims is in good company. New Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell is in the long blockchain, short bitcoin club. That attitude is in line with his predecessor, Janet Yellen, who warned that bitcoin is a “highly speculative asset.” Websites hosting finance-related content like Forbes and CNBC are filled with analysis along a similar vein from investment professionals.

Is it really so easy to decouple blockchain from bitcoin, or is the trend just a cop-out? FinTech consultant Daniel Shanklin thinks it’s the latter, noting in an article that breaks down the relationship between the two. “It’s bad that so many capital markets professionals don’t seem to grasp the fact that bitcoin and the blockchain are joined at the hip,” Shankin writes.

Perhaps the excitement about blockchain will end up being good news for its related currencies, or perhaps the two really will move in different directions. Only time will tell.

 

Jessica Levy is a writer on every topic imaginable and a ghostwriter helping finance and tech professionals put their ideas into words. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, TechCrunch, Forbes, VentureBeat, and more. You can learn more at her website. Disclosure: Levy's combined holdings in bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin is less than 5 percent of her total assets.