Bitcoin Could Still Experience ‘Breakthroughs,’ Says Norway Finance Minister

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In Brief
  • Norway’s Finance Minister Jan Tore Sanner suggested bitcoin could move past its current period of volatility and still experience “breakthroughs.”

  • Sanner’s perspective represents the middle ground between supporters and detractors in the country.

  • Meanwhile, the nearly cashless country has slowly been making progress on its central bank digital currency (CBDC).

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Norway’s Finance Minister Jan Tore Sanner suggested bitcoin could move past its current period of volatility and still experience “breakthroughs.”

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“It is clear that there may be a development over time, whereby you will be able to get more stabilization mechanisms in the currencies that can lead to greater breakthroughs and upheavals in the slightly longer term,” Jan Tore Sanner said. Despite this appraisal, he still thinks that cryptocurrencies are “not a market I would recommend consumers to enter.”

Bitcoin in Norway

Apart from the warning, this rosier perspective puts Sanner at odds with the governor of Norway’s central bank, Øystein Olsen. Earlier, Olsen had said that bitcoin was too costly, due to its energy-intensive needs, and did not preserve stability as a currency should. However, Sanner’s tempered perspective is more representative of the more nuanced range of voices in the Nordic country.

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For instance, bitcoin still has hearty supporters, among them the billionaire owner of one of the country’s biggest corporate empires. Earlier this year, Kjell Inge Rokke, the majority shareholder in Aker ASA, announced the launch of the Bitcoin investment company called Seetee. Through the company, Aker is now investing in projects across the Bitcoin ecosystem. Rokke feels confident that the Bitcoin ecosystem will end “on the right side of history,” and recently hinted the company would consider taking payment in bitcoin.

Meanwhile, from Sanner’s more balanced perspective, he feels they can’t go mainstream until properly regulated. For his part, Norway’s finance ministry unveiled stricter registration requirements for cryptocurrency service providers earlier this week. This was done as part of new measures to fight money laundering, as Sanner also highlighted that cryptocurrencies are “popular with criminals.”

Norwegian CBDC

As cryptocurrencies’ increase in popularity triggers apprehension, monetary authorities around the world are working towards issuing their own digital currencies. Norway is no exception, recently announcing the next step towards a technical solution for its central bank digital currency (CBDC). This comes after four years of preliminary research, although there are still no definite plans to issue a CBDC.

As another Norges Bank official explained last year, this is because Norway is already a largely cashless society. If the country eventually decides it is worthwhile, it would still likely take several years. As deputy governor of Norges Bank Ida Wolden Bache said, “the lack of urgency reflects our view so far that there is no acute need to introduce a CBDC.”

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.

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