U.S. President Joe Biden nominated Ajay Banga to be the new leader of the World Bank – an executive who’s been critical of the crypto industry in the past.
Banga is expected to take over David Malpass as president by May.
The New World Bank President
As detailed in a White House statement on Thursday, Banga is currently the Vice Chairman of growth equity firm General Atlantic and was formerly the President and CEO of Mastercard.
“Ajay is uniquely equipped to lead the World Bank at this critical moment in history,” wrote Biden in his statement. “Raised in India, Ajay has a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing developing countries and how the World Bank can deliver on its ambitious agenda to reduce poverty and expand prosperity.”
The World Bank is an international financial institution established in 1944 alongside the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Its goal is to provide loans to low and middle-income countries to spur development – as well as NGOs and environmental groups.
While Mastercard has launched numerous partnerships and products to help spur crypto adoption, Banga has historically been opposed to the space. In 2018, he called cryptocurrencies “junk” while criticizing their volatile prices and the necessity of mining them (in the case of Bitcoin).
“Why civil society would like to put a snake in its backyard and think that somehow the snake will only bite my neighbor, I don’t get it,” he said regarding Bitcoin at the time.
In 2020, the same executive denied the claim that Bitcoin will help “bank the unbanked,” again citing its wildly fluctuating market price.
World Bank’s Crypto Position
The executive will likely be a welcome new addition to the World Bank in this respect, which has repeatedly voiced opposition to Bitcoin adoption alongside the IMF. It has already denied offering support to El Salvador and the Central African Republic after both embraced Bitcoin as legal tender.
The withdrawal of support has not deterred El Salvador president Nayib Bukele from pushing Bitcoin adoption forward. The country has now arranged for the possibility of raising money through “Bitcoin bonds,” in order to buy Bitcoin and build out the ambitious Bitcoin City.
In November, he argued that the West will eventually transition away from central banking to a more decentralized model while calling out institutions like the World Bank for spreading bad press about El Salvador’s plans.
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