Cryptocurrencies are killing people in a “pretty direct way,” said Microsoft founder Bill Gates. He was referring to the way digital currencies like Bitcoin are used to buy drugs like the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
In a “ask me anything” session on the Reddit news website, he said that the anonymity of digital currencies meant they were linked to terrorist financing and money laundering. Some criticized him, saying he was misinformed about the technology. When asked by a user for his opinion on the technology, Gates replied: “The main characteristic 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 terrorism financing. It’s something good. Right now, cryptocurrencies are being used to buy fentanyl and other drugs, so it’s a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way. I think the speculative wave around ICOs [initial coin offerings] and crypto is very risky for those who stay long.
Gates hasn’t always been so cynical about Bitcoin. In 2014, in an interview on Bloomberg TV, he said that Bitcoin was better than currency. Veteran investor Warren Buffet has previously said that the speculative cryptocurrency craze “will come to a bad end. While the underlying technology is often praised, there are concerns about how it could disrupt the economy, as well as its links to cybercrime and money laundering.
His unenthusiastic response from him on Reddit was not well received by everyone who participated in the debate, with some berating him for what they felt was an attempt to influence the market. Others suggested that he needed to re-consult the Bitcoin white paper. Charity donationsIn the extensive Reddit talk, Gates told the audience that his top three goals were to “reduce both child death and malnutrition and end polio.”
Mr. Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which spends billions each year on health and projects education . The foundation has also sponsored the development of blockchain, the technology that underpins for merchants in Kenya. Microsoft is also looking to integrate blockchain based technology to verify digital identity.