Billionaire Ray Dalio says he owns bitcoin, and its ‘greatest risk is its success’

Though billionaire investor Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, has previously expressed concern about the future of bitcoin, he has also noted that the cryptocurrency earned his respect.

Now, he reveals, “I have some bitcoin,” Dalio told CoinDesk during its 2021 Consensus conference. The interview was recorded on May 6 and published Monday.

But Dalio maintains that the cryptocurrency still faces risk.

“Bitcoin’s greatest risk is its success,” he said.

And if it succeeds, “one of the great things, I think, as a worry is the government having the capacity to control … bitcoin, or the digital currencies. They know where they are, and they know what’s going on,” he said.

“The more we create savings in [bitcoin], the more you might say, ‘I’d rather have bitcoin than the bond.’ Personally, I’d rather have bitcoin than a bond. And then the more that happens, then it goes into bitcoin and it doesn’t go into credit, then [governments] lose control of that.” 

This isn’t the first time Dalio expressed concern about the risk of government regulation.

“I am not a bitcoin/cryptocurrency expert,” he wrote in a January post titled “What I Think of Bitcoin,” but “I suspect that Bitcoin’s biggest risk is being successful, because if it’s successful, the government will try to kill it and they have a lot of power to succeed.”

In March, Dalio warned of the possibility that the U.S. government could ban bitcoin as it did with gold during the 1930s if the cryptocurrency is seen as a competitive threat to Treasury bonds.

However, James Ledbetter, editor of fintech newsletter FIN and a CNBC contributor, previously told CNBC Make It that it’d be quite difficult for the government to effectively ban bitcoin.

Although there’s “concern or risk around regulation” of bitcoin, “I don’t think even a concerted effort among different countries and different central banks could actually shut down bitcoin,” Ledbetter said. “I don’t think that’s technologically possible. But there are ways that bitcoin could be regulated.”

Nonetheless, “the world is going to change at an incredibly fast pace,” Dalio told CoinDesk. “Whoever wins the technology race, wins it all, economically, and militarily. That’s what the next five years looks like.”

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