David Woo on why an American CBDC could be big trouble for Bitcoin

Episode 22 of Season 4 of The Scoop was recorded remotely with The Block’s Frank Chaparro and David Woo, Founder and CEO of David Woo Unbound.

Listen below, and subscribe to The Scoop on AppleSpotifyGoogle PodcastsStitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts. Email feedback and revision requests to [email protected].

David Woo, a former top Bank of America executive, is famous for his 2013 prediction that Bitcoin would prove to be a viable alternative to traditional money transfer providers.

Nearly a decade later, Woo is still prognosticating about the future of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, though given the current macro backdrop, his outlook is significantly bleaker. 

In the latest episode of The Scoop podcast, Woo joins host Frank Chaparro to explain why Bitcoin may not be spared from the economic and geopolitical issues he sees potentially forming on the horizon: 

“I think the most important story that we could be transitioning into is basically Cold War II," he said. "Cold War II that pits the US and its allies against China and Russia... That’s not going to be fun.”

US efforts to potentially develop its own central bank digital currency in such an environment also spells trouble, though the Fed itself hasn't given the official green-light on this front. As Woo discussed during the interview:  

“If we go back to the 70s situation where they are printing money... you think they are just going to encourage people to go into Bitcoin?" He went on to add, "Once you have CBDC, they are going to know every cent you have... Everything is going to be under government control, and at that point, they’re going to crack down on bitcoin like mad.”

To illustrate his point, Woo pointed to China, where the launch of a CBDC resulted in  a harsh crackdown on services facilitating the exchange of fiat currencies and crypto assets.

According to Woo, the main reason the US has yet to crack down on Bitcoin is political. He explains:

“The main reason is because the government in the US doesn’t want to take the side of the banks... The banks represent the established monopolies, the payment system, the dinosaurs and that Bitcoin represents the new kid on the block that’s going to make everything more efficient. Even if they think crypto is a bit speculative, they’re afraid to crack down too hard because they are going to be accused of basically being pro-Wall Street.”

Despite the political unpopularity, Woo believes the creation of an American CBDC and the accompanying crypto crackdown is inevitable:


Keep up with the latest news, trends, charts and views on crypto and DeFi with a new biweekly newsletter from The Block's Frank Chaparro

By signing-up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy
By signing-up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

“China just launched their CBDC…Nobody wants China to get ahead, so America needs to basically show that the US is not ready to surrender the dollar’s reserve currency status in this new struggle.”

Earlier this month the Biden Administration issued an executive order which, among other things, “places the highest urgency on research and development efforts into the potential design and deployment options of a United States CBDC.”

Woo suggests that it is this particular event that will have a profound impact on Bitcoin: “Once you have a [CBDC], do you not think the attitude towards Bitcoin is going to change completely?”

During this episode, Woo and Chaparro also discuss:

  • The factors driving inflation
  • Why the conflict between Russia and Ukraine may result in “Cold War 2” 
  • Why inflation, tech stocks, and the US dollar matter for crypto

This episode is brought to you by our sponsors FireblocksCoinbase Prime & Chainalysis
Fireblocks is an enterprise-grade platform delivering a secure infrastructure for moving, storing, and issuing digital assets. Fireblocks enables exchanges, lending desks, custodians, banks, trading desks, and hedge funds to securely scale digital asset operations through the Fireblocks Network and MPC-based Wallet Infrastructure. Fireblocks serves over 725 financial institutions, has secured the transfer of over $1.5 trillion in digital assets, and has a unique insurance policy that covers assets in storage & transit. For more information, please visit www.fireblocks.com.

About Coinbase Prime
Coinbase Prime is an integrated solution that provides institutional investors with an advanced trading platform, secure custody, and prime services to manage all their crypto assets in one place. Coinbase Prime fully integrates crypto trading and custody on a single platform, and gives clients the best all-in pricing in their network using their proprietary Smart Order Router and algorithmic execution. For more information, visit www.coinbase.com/prime.

About Chainalysis
Chainalysis is the blockchain data platform. We provide data, software, services, and research to government agencies, exchanges, financial institutions, and insurance and cybersecurity companies in over 60 countries. Our data powers investigation, compliance, and market intelligence software that has been used to solve some of the world’s most high-profile criminal cases and grow consumer access to cryptocurrency safely. Backed by Accel, Addition, Benchmark, Coatue, Paradigm, Ribbit, and other leading firms in venture capital, Chainalysis builds trust in blockchains to promote more financial freedom with less risk. For more information, visit www.chainalysis.com.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Authors

Davis Quinton is the Director of Podcasts at The Block and runs our flagship podcast called The Scoop, hosted by Frank Chaparro. Since joining The Block as an 'intern' in early 2022, he has worked closely with leaders across departments to translate The Block's written content into engaging multimedia formats. He holds a degree in Social Research & Public Policy from New York University in Abu Dhabi and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Frank Chaparro is Host of The Scoop podcast and Director of Special Projects. He also writes a biweekly newsletter. Chaparro started his career at Business Insider, where he specialized in the intersection of digital assets and Wall Street, market structure, and financial technology. Soon after joining Business Insider out of Fordham University, Chaparro was interviewing top finance and tech executives, including billionaire Mark Cuban, “Flash Boys” star Brad Katsuyama, Cboe Global Markets CEO Ed Tilly, and New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley. In 2018, he become a sought after reporter in the crypto world, interviewing luminaries such as Tyler Winklevoss, the cofounder of Gemini, Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Circle, and Fundstrat head Tom Lee. For inquiries or tips, email [email protected].