PayPal president David Marcus has predicted that bitcoin could double its value over the next year as it continues to prosper as an investment asset but insists that the cryptocurrency is not a real currency.
Bitcoin has seen its price surge to around $1000 in recent weeks, prompting heated speculation about its true value. Marcus says that he is a fan of and owns bitcoin and expects growth to continue.
The PayPal chief sees the cryptocurrency as a speculative investment asset and as a useful store of value, telling the LeWeb conference: "It's a great place to put assets, especially in places like Argentina with 40% inflation, where $1 today is worth 60 cents in a year, and a government's currency does not hold value."
However, PayPal has no immediate plans to add it as an option for customers because "it won't be a currency until volatility slows down. Whenever the regulatory framework is clearer, and the volatility comes down, then we'll consider it."
According to CNet, Marcus also used the LeWeb conference to repeat the attack on NFC payments he made a year ago. "It's technology for the sake of technology or for the sake of pushing the agenda of the companies supporting it, versus solving real people's problems. Instead swiping or using a PIN pad, they're tapping. How is that really better? How is that changing your life? People don't want that," he told his audience.
Instead, PayPal is betting on Bluetooth Low Energy technology with its new Beacon offering for location-sensitive hands-free cashless payments. In a blog post offering up six predictions for 2014, Marcus says that Beacon and the rise of tablets will help traditional retail outlets begin the process of abolishing the checkout altogether.
The PayPal boss predicts a "flood of new payment experiences built on technologies such as sensors, geolocation, and the cloud that will soon make standing in a long checkout line and paying with a card seem like something out of the Stone Age".
Meanwhile, he says that 2014 will see huge disruption in the payments market as young start-ups shake up the industry and more established players seek to make alliances and acquisitions - as PayPal itself did this year by buying Braintree.