It has been over a year since De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), the Dutch Central Bank, was vocal about bitcoin. The bank previously voiced its opinion that “virtual currencies are not a viable alternative” to fiat currency, and that they “are unlikely to become a viable alternative for traditional currency in the foreseeable future.”
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Perhaps because of Bitcoin’s new-found popularity and accelerated Dutch adoption rate over the last year, this standpoint appears to be improving. Recently, DNB’s head of research, Jakob de Haan, stated publicly that he is not personally opposed to cryptocurrencies, and that the central bank was not trying to interfere with its growth in any way.
On September 26th at a cryptocurrency conference called reinvent.money in Rotterdam, in front of an auditorium filled with European libertarians and anarchists, de Haan bravely gave a presentation on the future of central banking. The first twenty minutes of the presentation were what you might expect from a central banker. However, the floor was opened for comments and de Haan was specifically questioned multiple times about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies competing with the fiat money that his bank issues.
To his credit, de Haan took a lighthearted stance while answering, admitting that his audience were the experts on this subject, claiming that he did not mention bitcoin in his opening presentation because, as he said, “I don’t have a clue about bitcoin.”
While claiming that his view of bitcoin is his own, he stated that there are people at the central bank who closely follow bitcoin and other digital currencies, but not to oppose them.
“We are not fundamentally opposed to these alternatives.” – de Haan
Without specifying the position of the central bank, de haan said that, “it all depends on what will happen.” De Haan seems to take a “wait and see” attitude towards Bitcoin, while generally being very careful, such as when he replied to one question with only the words “I’m not opposed to this initiative.” He even made light of the topic by saying that the future would be very different with bitcoin being widely accepted, and that he would be out of a job.
The DNB hasn’t officially changed its standpoint on digital currencies yet. The bank has published a few bulletins stating plainly that bitcoin, is not under its supervision and is not guaranteed — a point which de Haan echoed in his answer session.
“As long as people understand that point,” he said, “they can get involved at their own risk.” The central bank also warned member banks and other financial institutions of the risks of bitcoin and altcoins, classifying them as “products with a very high risk profile.”
Even without believing that bitcoin could become a viable alternative for the basic functions of money, the Dutch Central Bank already recognized virtual currencies’ “innovative characters and their way of challenging the current financial system.”
Do you think the DNB will change its official stance on Bitcoin anytime soon? Let us know in the comments below!