Imagining the future of blockchain technology is like trying to imagine Google and Facebook on the day the first web browser came out, said Hadley Stern, senior vice president at Fidelity Labs.
Stern is responsible for running Fidelity’s bitcoin, blockchain and digital currency incubator. His research team has been experimenting with bitcoin because he said it is like “digital gold” and that “blockchain technology will change the world.”
The corporation announced Wednesday that it started allowing clients to view bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on its website, making it one of the few established institutions that have warmed up to cryptocurrencies.
“The big story is you can transfer value through software and software alone. This is a huge societal breakthrough,” Stern said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”
And regardless of whether bitcoin will survive, it could be like the Napster of blockchain technology, Stern said, where it is the first of its kind but the next products, in this case Spotify and Apple Music, get better and better.
“I do think [cryptocurrencies] will make things, whether it’s bitcoin or something else, faster and cheaper and create new products and services that we can’t even imagine,” Stern said.
While some critics are skeptical of how bitcoin is used, Stern said that banning the cryptocurrency would be like banning the web or open internet protocols.
“Whether governments like it or not, it’s here to stay,” he said.
Stern did emphasize though that Fidelity’s move does not mean their clients can make bitcoin transactions through their corporation, saying “we’re not necessarily making a judgment on bitcoin.” It is just a way for clients to view their bitcoin balances alongside their accounts.
Bitcoin reached an all-time high of around $3,500 Friday, up more than 20 percent for the week.