The banker and former Italian Minister Corrado Passera called cryptocurrencies “a scam” and “a gift to organised crime”.
He did so during an interview with the Turin newspaper La Stampa about the launch of his new project, the Illimity bank.
Passera was Minister of Economic Development and Minister of Infrastructure and Transport under the Monti government, from November 2011 to April 2013.
Previously he was CEO of Poste Italiane, appointed in February 1998 by the Treasury Minister of the Prodi government, while in 2002 he became CEO of Banca Intesa.
In 2006 he was one of the initiators of the process that led to the merger of Banca Intesa with Sanpaolo IMI, creating one of the main Italian banking groups, Intesa Sanpaolo.
In an interview with La Stampa, he answered a question regarding possible fintech competitors to his new banking project and said that he does not have much faith in fintech companies that offer almost exclusively payment services, because these are very low-margin activities.
He also added that in this specific sector, “big tech” companies, such as Facebook, will be the dominant players, claiming that antitrust rules do not seem to apply, citing, for example, the fact that Mark Zuckerberg’s company also owns Instagram and WhatsApp.
He answered another question about Libra by saying:
“It represents a very serious risk. In my opinion, cryptocurrencies are, at best, a scam, at worst a gift to international crime. Libra responds to a vision in which the democratic authorities are to be deprived of control over money and its flows. The aim is to create a sort of supranational state with its own currency, its own rules and its own courts. When will they have their own army?”.
These declarations have all the aspect of a political meeting, rather than the analysis of a banker and are so out of line that they can be catalogued as mere propaganda.
The reference to the possibility that Facebook would have its own army should probably be considered just a boutade, useful to gain greater visibility for his interview that advertises his new bank. It should probably be catalogued as a symptom of profound unease.
Passera confuses Libra with the real cryptocurrencies, probably without being aware that the stablecoin envisaged by Facebook has nothing to do with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the other decentralised projects. Moreover, Passera pretends not to know that it is the dollar, and not cryptocurrencies, the most used money laundering currency.
Furthermore, defining as “democratic” the authorities that control fiat money is at least questionable, given that central banks do not have any members elected by citizens.
The former minister gives the impression that he has rather little knowledge of fintech, in particular of the so-called DeFi, and that he uses trivial propaganda tricks in order to ultimately promote his business project.
As long as the traditional financial world maintains this hostile and naive attitude towards the disruptive innovations that are inevitably spreading in the sector, the risk that companies and institutions unable to adapt to change may become extinct remains quite high.
An old Chinese saying goes like this:
“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills”.
Those walls are often destined to collapse.