Michael Novogratz, founder and chief executive officer of Galaxy Digital, told the Qatar Economic Forum he is still a buyer of bitcoin and prefers the digital currency to buying gold.
Earlier on Tuesday, the chief executive officer of Binance Holdings said the cryptocurrency market is still “pretty healthy” despite a recent selloff. Swiss Re Chairman Sergio Ermotti, meanwhile, called cyber risk one the biggest challenges facing companies, second only to the pandemic.
The three-day event kicked off on Monday, with billionaire investor Ray Dalio and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers telling the Forum the U.S. is headed for a period of overheating and inflation that could threaten the recovery.
The Qatar Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Investment Promotion Agency Qatar and Media City Qatar are underwriters of the Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg.
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Novogratz: Long-Bitcoin Trumps Long-Gold (11:25 a.m. Doha)
Billionaire investor Novogratz said he looks at Bitcoin as “digital gold.” “If you’re going to be long gold, Bitcoin is a better version because it’s got the same macro tailwinds but it is also very early in the adoption curve.”
“Crypto is a luxury in the developed markets, it’s a necessity in the developing markets, where you’ve got currencies that devalue 20% to 30% every year,” Novogratz said. For the general user of crypto, though, Bitcoin and Ethereum is “probably enough,” he said.
Dan Morehead, chief executive officer of Pantera Capital, said on the same panel that there are a lot of good crypto products besides Bitcoin to invest in. “This year, Bitcoin is up 34%, our hedge fund that trades the liquid tokens is up 240%,” he said.
“Ethereum is the second-biggest, it’s very important.”
Binance CEO Says Crypto Market Still Healthy (11:10 a.m. Doha)
“It’s very hard to tell” why the currencies have been dropping,Binance Holdings Chief Executive Changpeng Zhao said in an interview, citing positive news like El Salvador adopting Bitcoin and negative headlines such as China cracking down on the currency. “From our perspective, we just see people placing orders.”
China’s intensifying cryptocurrency crackdown has left Bitcoin flirting with $30,000, a price level seen as key to the short-term outlook for the largest virtual currency.
Zhao said he expects more countries to adopt cryptocurrencies, and that China’s clampdown on miners will have a short-term impact rather than a long-term one.
Masters Sees $10 Trillion Fintech Opportunity (11:05 a.m. Doha)
Technologies that integrate the finance industry’s disparate networks offer an outsized investment opportunity, according to Blythe Masters, chief executive officer of Motive Capital.
The opportunity to develop “platform-like businesses that connect broad networks” is particularly exciting for financial services, Masters said during a panel discussing fintech, adding that the sector has lagged “in terms of the disruption that platform businesses can bring to this space.”
The potential market is vast. “More than one in every four dollars that are spent on technology are spent on financial technology by both financial firms and non-financial firms,” Masters said. “That adds up to about a $10 trillion market opportunity.”
Masters, a former JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive, was speaking alongside Snoop founder Jayne-Anne Gadhia and Zenith Bank chairman Jim Ovia.
Ermotti Warns on Cyber Risks (10:45 a.m. Doha)
Awareness of the risks of major cyber attacks is widespread, Swiss Re Chairman Sergio Ermotti said, while questioning whether enough potential fixes are in place.
Risks in the cyber space are very hard to predict and the premiums for insuring against cyber attacks now represent some $7 billion per annum for insurance companies, Ermotti said, adding that Swiss Re expects demand for insurance to cover such risks to increase three fold to almost $20 billion by 2025. Some estimates show that cyber risk claims to insurance companies currently amount to $1 trillion a year, Ermotti said.
“All those risks cannot always be fully covered and there is a necessity in the market for all the players to cover the tail risks,” Ermotti said. With events like with recent Irish health service and U.S. pipeline hackings “we become more and more aware that the need of governments to think about policies that allow the private and public sector to cooperate on how to tackle those risks,” he added.
Mittal Says India Needs Telecom Competition (10:25 a.m. Doha)
Years of bruising price competition has left only “two-and-a-half operators” in India’s telecom sector and it would be “tragic” if that reduced to two, Sunil Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel Ltd., India’s second-largest wireless operator, told the forum.
While billionaire Mittal’s firm has been gaining market share, it lags Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., India’s largest network by subscriber numbers. A third player, Vodafone Idea Ltd., is hanging by a thread, with senior executives warning in the past that it may slip into bankruptcy.
That would not be a good result for the telecom sector or Indian consumers, Mittal said. “India is a very large country. It deserves to have three private sector players.”
India’s Top Private Employer Sees More Flexibility (10:00 a.m. Doha)
The world of work won’t go back to pre-Covid norms, Tata Sons Pvt Ltd Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran said, while insisting that the office remains a critical hub and staff will gradually return. Chandrasekaran, head of India’s biggest private-sector employer, said workplaces will benefit from allowing staff greater leeway with the help of technology.
When the pandemic hit India in early 2020, the 150-year-old steel-to-airlines conglomerate scrambled to adapt to lockdown restrictions. Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. — its largest company by employee numbers and profitability — nearly half a million workers shifted to working from home.
Google Sees AI Driving Cloud Business (9:00 a.m. Doha)
Google expects artificial intelligence and data analytics to drive opportunities in its cloud business, its chief financial officer said.
“What we’re really excited about is the investments and opportunity in our cloud business,” Ruth Porat said in an interview at the Qatar Economic Forum. “Our cloud business really is benefiting from extraordinary data analytics, the AI behind that, and then we’ve brought in talents to focus on very industry-specific solutions.”
Porat noted how Google’s cloud business has prioritized targeting financial services and retail to win more business, after being asked what differentiates the company from its competitors such as Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc.
Qatar May Sit Out Gulf Debt Binge (7:30 a.m. Doha)
One of the Gulf’s largest and highest-rated borrowers won’t need to return to the debt market any time soon, though it may choose to take advantage of low interest rates.
“The only time we might need financing is just to improve our financial position” like refinancing outstanding debts more cheaply, said Ali Al Kuwari, Qatar’s acting finance minister and the Minister of Commerce and Industry. A rise in global energy prices has helped the tiny country generate a first-quarter surplus of 200 million Qatari riyals ($54 million) as opposed to the 54 billion riyal deficit it had anticipated.
If the situation continues, investors should expect Qatar to tap bond markets “only to be opportunistic,” he said in an interview at the Qatar Economic Forum that airs in full on Tuesday.
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