NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bitcoin “is a fraud” and will blow up, Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a bank investor conference in New York, Dimon said, “The currency isn’t going to work. You can’t have a business where people can invent a currency out of thin air and think that people who are buying it are really smart.”
Dimon said that if any JPMorgan traders were trading the crypto-currency, “I would fire them in a second, for two reasons: It is against our rules and they are stupid, and both are dangerous.”
Dimon’s comments come as the bitcoin, a virtual currency not backed by any government, has more than quadrupled in value since December to more than $4,100.
Bitcoin is a digital currency that enables individuals to transfer value to each other and pay for goods and services bypassing banks and the mainstream financial system.
While banks have largely steered clear of bitcoin since it emerged following the financial crisis, the virtual currency has a range of people who support it, including technology enthusiasts, liberterians skeptical of government monetary policy and speculators attracted by its price swings.
“Like it or not, people want exposure to bitcoin,” Edward Tilly, chairman and CEO of exchange group CBOE Holdings Inc. (CBOE.O), said at the same conference.
CBOE has applied with U.S. regulators to launch a bitcoin futures contract and a bitcoin exchange traded fund on its venues.
Any good trade is started with a difference of opinion, Tilly added. ”So Jamie can be on the short side and the issuers and those trading in physical can be on the long side, and it sounds like we have a great trade.”
Dimon may also be on the other side of another bitcoin trade closer to home.
At another conference about two hours later, Dimon said that one of his daughters had bought some bitcoin.