Emerging Technologies

This is what Bill Gates thinks about cryptocurrencies

Microsoft founder Bill Gates looks on during a healthcare event with European Commissioner Carlos Moedas in Brussels, Belgium, February 16, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

Bill Gates believes that the anonymity of cryptocurrencies is "not a good thing". Image: REUTERS/Eric Vidal

Becky Peterson
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Bill Gates does not seem to be a fan of cryptocurrencies.

In a Reddit AMA on Tuesday, the Microsoft cofounder and richest man in the world expressed his belief that the anonymity behind cryptocurrencies is not "a good thing," adding that society benefits when governments can identify money launderers, tax evaders, and the people funding terrorists.

"The main feature of cryptocurrencies is their anonymity. I don't think this is a good thing. The Governments [sic] ability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing," Gates wrote.

Gates also said that cryptocurrency has "caused deaths in a fairly direct way," noting the ease with which drugs can be bought online using digital currencies.

"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," he said.

When one Reddit user responded to say that you can buy Fentanyl with cash, Gates defended his initial assertion.

"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.

It should be noted that fans of cryptocurrencies believe that low-cost global money transfers and decentralization of power are actually some of the more compelling features of cryptocurrencies. This means that Gates' remarks are likely to be met with resistance from the cryptocurrency world.

Gates' full, original comment:

"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."

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