A pile of coins representing Bitcoin cryptocurrency sit grouped together in the U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Bitcoin’s ‘Patient Zero’ Says Crypto an Experiment That May Fail

(Bloomberg) -- Bitcoin is an intellectual experiment that could take years to prove successful, if it does at all, according to Xapo founder Wences Casares.

“It may work, it might not work,” Casares said Monday in a Bloomberg Television interview. “We are in the equivalent of 1992 for the internet.”

The Argentine entrepreneur -- dubbed “Patient Zero” for his role in spurring Silicon Valley’s interest in the cryptocurrency -- said the probability of success is still greater than failure.

Casares said he’d consider Bitcoin successful if it became a global standard of value and settlement. While it’s unlikely to replace national currencies, it could represent a universal standard of value, he said.

“Just like we have a nonpolitical standard of weight,” said Casares, who is Xapo’s chief executive officer. “We need a nonpolitical standard of value.”

Casares has spent the past several years persuading Silicon Valley millionaires and billionaires that Bitcoin is the global currency of the future, that they need to buy some and that he’s the one to safeguard it. Xapo has underground vaults on five continents -- including one in a decommissioned Swiss military bunker -- that reportedly held about $10 billion of Bitcoin earlier this year, or roughly 7 percent of the global supply.

The firm’s backers include LinkedIn Corp. co-founder Reid Hoffman and former Wall Street trader Mike Novogratz.

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