NEW YORK — Aiming to become the city’s top financial officer, Democrat Reshma Patel on Wednesday evening defended proposing a small portion of the city’s pension funds be invested in cryptocurrencies, arguing some states have seen success with such a move.
In an interview with “Inside City Hall” Anchor Errol Louis on Wednesday night, Patel, a candidate for city comptroller who was once a financial advisor for the office, urged the trustees of the New York City Employees’ Retirement Systems to allocate between 1 to 3% of their assets into cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Patel cited success stories from pension funds in other states that adopted similar cryptocurrency strategies, while positioning the investment as a hedge against inflation or a potential downturn in traditional stock markets.
“There are two pension funds in Virginia which had invested in a blockchain fund two years ago and then they increased that because the returns had done well,” Patel said.
While Patel acknowledged the volatility of cryptocurrency markets, she countered that traditional stock markets also see periods of relatively high risk, too.
“I understand there’s risk — especially in the last few weeks there’s been tremendous risk in this — but last March we had a lot of risk in the S&P  as well,” Patel explained.
Patel also vowed to expand the city’s digital banking efforts, specifically in vulnerable, low-income communities, in order to ensure all New Yorkers have access to financial services. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers do not have a bank account.
Patel also emphasized her ability to execute financial strategies, citing her years in public finance, as well as the importance of diversity in government.
“I believe that we have a lot of great policy initiatives in our city, but we often fail when it comes to implementation, and this past year really showed the fault lines in our city government. It showed that we can’t have business as usual,” Patel said. “I believe we need more diversity in our city government’s leadership. I believe we need more women and I think we need people, in the role of comptroller especially, who have the technical expertise, which I do.”
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Watch the full interview above.
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