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Bitcoin ‘More Than Just a Fad,’ Morgan Stanley CEO Gorman Says

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Not every Wall Street bank chief is bearish on bitcoin.

Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman takes a more measured view on the cryptocurrency than crosstown rival Jamie Dimon, the JPMorgan Chase & Co. head who earlier this month called it “a fraud” that’s in a speculative bubble worse than tulip bulbs.

Bitcoin is “certainly something more than just a fad,” Gorman said Wednesday at an event held by the Wall Street Journal. “The concept of anonymous currency is a very interesting concept — interesting for the privacy protections it gives people, interesting because what it says to the central banking system about controlling that.”

The digital currency has soared in recent months, spurred by greater acceptance of the blockchain technology that underpins exchange and optimism that faster transaction times will encourage broader use. Prices have climbed more than four-fold this year — a run that has drawn debate over whether that’s a bubble.

“I haven’t invested in it,” Gorman said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people who have. It’s obviously highly speculative but it’s not something that’s inherently bad. It’s a natural consequence of the whole blockchain technology.”

Gorman did wonder “at what point do regulators — like the Chinese have been saying — just decide we want to control monetary flows for money laundering and privacy and capital outflows and all the other reasons.”

Dimon differentiated between the bitcoin currency and the underlying blockchain technology, which he said can be useful. He also noted that his daughter had bought some bitcoin.