Bitcoin and the world of cryptocurrency, though it has reached mainstream consciousness in recent years, is still a close-knit community, with some of the most established voices carrying a lot of clout among investors and companies.
One of the most respected voices is that of Andreas Antonopoulos, a tech entrepreneur-turned bitcoin evangelist and speaker — and Antonopoulos has now warned that a potential bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), which would allow a raft of new capital to flood into bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, could be bad news for the burgeoning industry.
Antonopoulos warning over the future of bitcoin comes after Coinbase's Brian Armstrong warned that mainstream adoption of bitcoin as a means of exchange could take longer than previously thought.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently weighing whether to approve a bitcoin ETF, a request filed through the Chicago Board of Exchange (CBOE) by New York-based VanEck and blockchain platform SolidX.
While it postponed the decision until late September at the earliest, many expect the ETF arrive eventually (and if not the VanEck/SolidX ETF then another in the future).
The bitcoin price — as well as the price of other major cryptocurrencies — has been moving almost entirely on the prospect of this particular ETF over recent months, with the bitcoin price climbing to highs of $8,500 after reports the SEC was leaning towards approving the ETF in August.
The bitcoin price is currently hovering around $6,500 after falling below the psychological $6,000 barrier last week for the second time this year. The bitcoin price is down almost 70% from its highs at the end of last year and many of newer cryptocurrencies that have been created in the last few years have been all but wiped out.
In a video posted to his Youtube channel last week, Antonopoulos warned that — although he does expect an ETF to be granted approval by the SEC — it will not be a good thing for bitcoin or the wider cryptocurrency world.
"I’m going to burst your bubble," Antonopoulos said. "I know a lot of people really want to see an ETF happen because 'to the moon, and lambos,' but I think it is a terrible idea. I still think it is going to happen, I just think it is a terrible idea. I’m actually against ETFs. I think a Bitcoin ETF is going to be damaging to the ecosystem."
Antonopoulos is against ETFs because he thinks it could change the nature of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
"ETFs fundamentally violate the underlying principle of peer-to-peer money, where each user is not operating through a custodian, but has direct control of their money because they have direct control of their keys," he told his Youtube viewers.
"Your keys? Your bitcoin. Not your keys? Not your bitcoin. An ETF is a multi-billionaire dollar 'not your keys, not your bitcoin' vehicle."
If approved a bitcoin ETF would mean people are able to buy into bitcoin without having to deal with clunky exchanges that often struggle with cumbersome regulation and lack of public trust.
Earlier this year a proposal for a bitcoin ETF, made by the Winklevoss twins of Facebook-founding fame and the Gemini exchange platform, was rejected by the SEC last year due to bitcoin's volatility — and many worry that volatility could still be putting regulators off the idea of a bitcoin ETF.