In a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Tuesday, Bill Gates shared his thoughts on cryptocurrencies. The Microsoft cofounder focused his response to a question regarding his opinion of cryptocurrencies towards their anonymous nature, claiming that it enables money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorism.
"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," Gates wrote.
The question, asked by a Reddit user, echoes the public’s interest in how pioneers of technology and finance feel about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. His response confirms the beliefs of many that lack knowledge about cryptocurrencies and their purpose. Although it is true that websites residing in the dark web typically accept cryptocurrencies as a means of payment, a study conducted by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Elliptic found that only 1% of all Bitcoin transactions are for illegal or nefarious purposes.
Gates went on to say that “cryptocurrencies are being used to buy fentanyl and other drugs, so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way.” A Reddit user responded to this assertion stating that people can buy fentanyl and other drugs with cash, but Gate’s replied stating that “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."
Bill Gates was met with resistance on the Reddit thread, with cryptocurrency advocates explaining that the major benefits are regarding their decentralized nature and cost-effective global money transfers. Many also mentioned the ability for cryptocurrencies to help the unbanked in developing nations.
Here is Bill Gate’s full comment on Reddit regarding cryptocurrencies:
"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."