Cryptocurrencies have faced some harsh scrutiny over the past couple of months. From crackdowns in China and Texas to ICO scams and market slumps, digital currencies are becoming increasingly infamous. And now, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has voiced a particularly startling criticism of the technology.
In a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) today, the software entrepreneur and world’s richest man was asked about his thoughts on cryptocurrencies. His reply suggested he wasn’t a fan of the anonymity associated with it, stating that it is important for Governments to be able to track money exchanges for the purposes of tax evasion and terrorism funding. In addition, the use of cryptocurrencies to buy drugs has meant that they are a rare technology which is ‘fairly’ directly linked to human 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.’ – Bill Gates
His closing remark about the ‘speculative wave’ is a sentiment shared by many concerned analysts who believe that crypocurrencies are a hype-fueled empty asset which will eventually crash.
The comments unsurprisingly received backlash from hundreds of readers. When challenged by a Reddit user who pointed out that the US dollar is also used to buy drugs and other illegal items, Mr. Gates responded that one must be physically present to do so which decreases the chance of ‘kidnapping payments’. However, many other users also pointed out that cryptocurrencies had uses beyond anonymity, such as the elimination of a need for a trusted third party and government corruption. Meanwhile, others pointed out that, just like cryptocurrencies, PCs running Microsoft’s Windows operating system can be used for illicit purposes.
Whatever your stance, it will be surprising to many to hear such a prominent figure in the digital world speak out against the technology.
Mr. Gates currently has a net worth of $92.1B, according to Forbes. He now spends the majority of his time working with his own private charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Featured image: Reuters/LearningEnglish