Founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates has said in an “ask me anything” session on Reddit, a news website that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are killing people in a “fairly direct way”, referring to how digital currencies can be used to purchase drugs like synthetic opioid fentanyl.
A user asked him about his opinion on the technology and he had this to say. “The main feature of cryptocurrencies is their anonymity. I don’t think it is a good thing. The government’s 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 (Initial Coin Offerings) and crypto-currencies is super risky for those who go along”.
This response came as a bit of a surprise after the Microsoft founder had declared in 2014 that Bitcoin was better than currency. Participants of the debate were not too pleased with his current stance and reproached him for attempting to influence the market, suggesting he should take another look at the Bitcoin white paper.
In the chat that covered various other topics, Mr. Gates who is also co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation revealed to the audience that his top three goals were reducing childhood death, malnutrition and ending polio. The foundation he co-chairs with his wife spends billions every year on education and health projects. It has also sponsored the technology that underpins crypto-currencies, blockchain, for merchants in Kenya.
The rise in the value of crypto-currencies has prompted governments the world over to look more closely at its impacts on citizens and economies. The technology behind it is often applauded, but there are concerns about its disruption of economies and its links to cyber-crime and money laundering. Crypto-currencies are currently under investigation by the UK’s Treasury Committee to measure their impact.