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Jack Ma warns of Bitcoin bubble

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PHILSTAR

HONG KONG — Billionaire Jack Ma has declared Bitcoin a potential bubble, reiterating his caution over the volatile cryptocurrency as his Ant Financial on Monday launched blockchain-based money transfers between Hong Kong and the Philippines.

The founder and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. extolled the possibilities of the decentralized ledger on which Bitcoin is based but warned that the digital currency itself may be driven by torrid speculation. Mr. Ma made his comments after officially launching a blockchain-based remittance service with Standard Chartered Plc and GCash, Ant’s venture with Globe Telecom Inc.

Bitcoin set a 2018 low on Sunday before bouncing back a tad, underscoring the volatility that stems from increased scrutiny by regulators even as global central bankers and business chiefs raise questions about its viability.

“Blockchain technology could change our world more than people imagine,” Mr. Ma told reporters in the former British colony, home to a large population of Filipino workers who send money home regularly. “Bitcoin, however, could be a bubble.”

Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba backed by some of the biggest names in global finance and investment, has explored blockchain technology for years, including to clean up China’s murky charities. Ant Financial, blocked from buying Moneygram International, Inc., now wants to build something better and take blockchain-based remittances beyond just Hong Kong to the Philippines.

Mr. Ma also took potshots at the traditional banking industry. “Traditional financial institutions serve 20% of people and make 80% of profits. New financial institutions should service 80% of people, and make 20% of profit.” — Bloomberg

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