During a “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session on Reddit, Bill Gates, chief founder of Microsoft Corporation, answered many questions from Reddit users, from his opinion on the automation of society to its life goals, and his undeniable preference for programming. He claimed that cryptocurrencies are “a rare technology that caused deaths in a fairly direct way.”
Bill Gates criticizes cryptocurrencies, in particular, what makes their success widespread: their virtual anonymity. Cryptocurrencies make it possible to carry out secure transactions in a decentralized manner, without having to give our name or bank account number – even if the operations can be precisely tracked.
“The main feature of cryptocurrencies 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,” Gates wrote. “Right now cryptocurrencies 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 cryptocurrencies is super risky for those who go long.”, stated Gates.
When one Reddit user responded to say that you can buy Fentanyl (medicine) with cash (dollars), Gates defended his initial assertion, saying:
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.
Many users have reacted to the entrepreneur’s response, on Reddit and Twitter, blaming Bill Gates for “limited understanding” of cryptocurrencies, contradicting him on the anonymous aspect of cryptocurrencies, or saying that Windows systems are also used to make reprehensible acts or purchases.
However, while Bill Gates pointed to the negative aspects of cryptocurrencies as a means of transaction, he did not criticize blockchain technology, which is the basis of cryptocurrency.
This is not the first time Bill Gates has spoken on the subject of cryptocurrencies. Asked by Bloomberg in 2014, he was a little more optimistic, saying “Bitcoin is better than [fiat] 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.” He seemed already worried about anonymity and Bitcoin’s links with terrorism or the sale of drugs.
In another AMA, he explained that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, of which he is the co-chair, was working on the creation of a currency in a digital form that “unlike Bitcoin, would not be anonymous.” A few months later, in 2015, he said that “Bitcoin alone is not good enough.”
These worries have not prevented his Foundation from turning to cryptocurrencies. In October 2017, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released software in partnership with the Ripple transaction system to make banks and financial infrastructure more accessible in developing countries.