Bill Gates has something to say on cryptocurrencies, and he definitely doesn’t approve of the virtual coins, with Microsoft’s founder even accusing them of being to blame for deaths in a “fairly direct way”.
Gates made his comments in a Reddit ‘ask me anything’ session in which someone asked him what his opinion was on cryptocurrencies.
Gates replied: “The main feature of cryptocurrencies is their anonymity. I don't think this is a good thing. The Government’s ability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing.
“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 crypto currencies is super risky for those who go long.”
Essentially, then, Gates is concerned about the usage of cryptocurrencies on the dark web, where they can be used to purchase the likes of drugs, and of course all manner of otherwise illegal goods.
Unsurprisingly, he isn’t the only one to think along these lines, including the authorities themselves. Indeed, the UK government recently equated cryptocurrency with criminal currency, and is trying to guard against virtual coins being used for the likes of money-laundering or tax evasion by regulating larger transactions on exchange platforms (this is something that will be happening across the EU, in fact).
Another respondent later chimed in that “the US dollar is also used to buy fentanyl and god knows what else”, to which Gates replied: “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.”
And of course, that applies to ransomware payments, as we’ve seen increasingly in the past couple of years.
Cryptocurrencies have certainly been copping plenty of flak since their explosion in value late last year, and even the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, got in on the act last month, accusing Bitcoin of being a failure in the traditional sense of a currency.
Mark Carney may have dismissed Bitcoin, but he does see value in its underlying technology – the blockchain – which he conceded could be useful in terms of verifying financial transactions. And indeed it could have many different uses across various industries when it comes to authentication needs. We doubt Gates would argue on that score…