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Richest person in Florida goes after Bitcoin

Thomas Peterffy, listed by Forbes as the world's richest billionaires living in Florida, took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday to go after Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. [New York Times file photo]
Thomas Peterffy, listed by Forbes as the world's richest billionaires living in Florida, took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday to go after Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. [New York Times file photo]
Published Nov. 15, 2017

The richest Floridian has a big beef with Bitcoin.

Thomas Peterffy, founder and chairman of futures commission merchant and broker-dealer Interactive Brokers LLC, took out a full-page ad in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal that warns the rise of Bitcoin could destabilize the economy.

He calls for a ban on Bitcoin and other so-called cryptocurrencies from using the same clearing organization as other financial products.

In his open letter to J. Christopher Giancarlo, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Peterffy says there is no fundamental basis to set a value for Bitcoin, a worldwide digital payment system that critics have long decried as susceptible to abuse through illegal money transfers.

That lack of a fundamental basis, Peterffy wrote, means Bitcoin can assume any price from one day to the next. "This has been illustrated quite clearly in 2017 as the price of Bitcoin has increased by nearly 1,000 percent," he wrote.

There is also no regulated and tested underlying market for cryptocurrencies nor any way to margin the product, he added.

Peterffy's conclusion: "Unless the risk of clearing cryptocurrency is isolated and segregated from other products, a catastrophe in the cryptocurrency market that destabilizes a clearing organization will destabilize the real economy."

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Peterffy, who made his fortune in the discount brokerage business, is atop the annual Forbes list of the world's richest billionaires who declare they are residents of Florida. The Forbes 2017 billionaire list estimates Peterffy, who lives in Palm Beach, is worth $13.8 billion.

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