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BlackRock CEO says Bitcoin is gaining legitimacy as an asset class

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Bitcoin is gaining legitimacy as an asset class — at least according to Laurence Fink, CEO of investment management firm BlackRock.

Fink said during a panel discussion Tuesday with former Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney that growing interest in bitcoin could indicate that it will eventually have a place in the global financial system. Fink has long been interested in blockchain technology but has historically been skeptical of Bitcoin's legitimacy.

During the final minutes of the question and answer section, Fink and Carney turned their discussion to digital currencies. Fink said BlackRock has seen considerable growth in interest in bitcoin, in the form of skyrocketing search volume on its website. Bitcoin seems to have "caught the imagination" of many people, which could reflect growing adoption, he said.

On the other hand, it's still a "thin market" that remains untested, and its staying power will depend on scale, he said. "We have to go through many markets to see if it's going to be permanently real."

Both Carney and Fink said they see digital currencies as an immense opportunity to bring down costs of payments. Digital currency may also have a "real impact" on the U.S. dollar as a reserve, said Fink.

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