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Ken Griffin Says He Doesn't See the ‘Economic Underpinning' of Cryptocurrencies

David A. Grogan | CNBC
  • Bitcoin has soared in recent months, boosted in part by adoption from major financial institutions, investors and companies, including Tesla.
  • Citadel Securities handles about 40% of the daily retail trading in the U.S.
  • Bitcoin traded above $53,000, putting its six-month gain at more than 350%.

Ken Griffin, who runs a sprawling Wall Street empire that includes market-making operations and a hedge fund, was dismissive of cryptocurrencies on Friday even as some see the emerging asset as the future of finance.

"I just don't spend much time thinking about cryptocurrencies," the founder and CEO of Citadel told CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin on "Squawk Box." "I don't see the economic underpinning of cryptocurrencies. I understand how to value a stock — the net present value of earnings. I understand how to think about currency-exchange rates around the world."

"I don't know how to think about what is effectively a digital token," Griffin added.

Bitcoin has soared in recent months, boosted in part by adoption from major financial institutions, investors and companies, including Tesla. Employees and customers of major Wall Street banks are also pushing for greater involvement in cryptocurrencies.

Bank of New York Mellon, the oldest U.S. bank, said on Feb. 11 it will start financing bitcoin and other digital currencies.

Citadel Securities is the market maker that handles about 40% of the daily retail trading in the U.S., making it one of the biggest companies involved in the country's financial plumbing. Griffin also founded a hedge fund named Citadel.

Bitcoin traded above $53,000 on Friday, according to Coin Metrics, putting its six-month gain at more than 350%.

Griffin's comments on cryptocurrencies came during an interview regarding Citadel's role in the GameStop saga. The firm handled retail trades from discount brokerage Robinhood during the Reddit-fueled short squeeze on the stock, and Griffin testified before Congress on Thursday.

The Citadel hedge fund also made an investment in January in Melvin Capital, one of the funds hit hardest by GameStop's rapid rise. Griffin defended that decision on Friday.

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