Bill Gates, the cofounder of Microsoft has always been a long time supporter of Bitcoin. In 2014, he claimed that the world’s largest cryptocurrency is better than fiat currency in an interview with Bloomberg.
“Bitcoin is exciting because it shows how cheap it (transactions) can be. Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient.”
Bitcoin soared over 2,000% last year, going from below $1,000 to almost $20,000. One of the reasons for its success would be the convenience as well as the anonymity that it gives users. By removing intermediaries such as banks and governments, it is possible for cryptocurrencies to be transferred from one end of the globe to the other with minimum hassle.
However, after the recent boom in cryptocurrencies, Gates’ opinion about cryptocurrencies have shifted from the positive end of the spectrum to the neutral-to-negative spectrum. Earlier today, Gates participated in an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit, where he answered questions ranging from his current life goals to his thoughts about the progress of automation. One of the questions was by a Reddit user called Askur1337 that asked about his view on cryptocurrencies.
“Whats [sic] your opinion on Crypto Currencies?”
Gates’ answer was straightforward. He criticized the anonymous factor of cryptocurrency transactions, which, in his opinion, is “not a good thing” and has “caused deaths.”
“The main feature of crypto currencies is their anonymity. I don’t think this is a good thing. The Governments ability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing. Right now crypto currencies are used for buying fentanyl and other drugs so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way. I think the speculative wave around ICOs and crypto currencies is super risky for those who go long.”
As a counterargument, one Reddit user pointed out that illegal purchases are not exclusive to cryptocurrencies, as drugs could also be purchased with regular cash as well. However, Gates’ stance was firm:
“Yes – anonymous cash is used for these kinds of things but you have to be physically present to transfer it which makes things like kidnapping payments more difficult,” he said.
Gates has always been a dedicated supporter of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Just last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation partnered with Ripple to support people in poor countries who have minimum access to banks and other financial services. Moreover, Microsoft was one of the first large corporations to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment, and the tech mammoth has recently partnered with IOTA to launch the first publicly accessible data marketplace for the Internet of Things.