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Klarna CEO Cautions Executives Promoting Bitcoin Investments

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(Bloomberg) -- Klarna AB Chief Executive Officer Sebastian Siemiatkowski took a swipe at executives and others who publicly encourage people to buy Bitcoin, warning it was a major risk for consumers around the world.

“Whatever you think about Bitcoins, what cannot continue is advertising this as a financial investment product with no protection,” the CEO of the Swedish payment provider said on a virtual panel hosted by German news outlets Thursday.

Without naming specific executives, Siemiatkowski said that if he encouraged the public on Twitter to invest in a specific stock, such as Adyen NV, “I would be put in jail for breaching laws around how you promote investments.” Pieter van der Does, CEO of Adyen, was also on the virtual panel but didn’t comment on this point.

“That has to stop, that is a major risk right now blowing up for consumers all over the world,” the Klarna CEO said. “Politicians have to act on that now.”

Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy Inc. and a Bitcoin proselytizer, said this week at his company’s World Now global conference that he sees an “avalanche” of companies moving their cash into Bitcoin over the next 12 months.

Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk also this week sent ripples through the price of Bitcoin, following comments he made on social audio app Clubhouse and in his Twitter Inc. profile. Both he and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have included “#bitcoin” in their profiles on the service, although Musk has since removed that reference.

After the Tesla chief said “Bitcoin is a good thing” and that he’s “late to the party,” the digital coin spiked to almost $34,500 on Monday before easing back. It surged as much as 16% on Jan. 29 after Musk changed his Twitter profile to include a reference to the cryptocurrency. Musk has also taken to his Twitter profile to promote the joke cryptocurrency Dogecoin, whose logo is a Shiba Inu.

Klarna, meanwhile, is set to face increasing regulation itself. On Tuesday, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority said it would start regulating the interest-free buy-now pay-later sector, which includes Klarna.

(Updated with context.)

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