Microsoft founder and one of the world’s richest men Bill Gates is no stranger to controversial statements, and this latest one takes some beating. This week, Gates made headlines after claiming that cryptocurrency is actually killing people as it appears to be the tool of choice for criminals and those who operate drug networks to move their ill-gotten gains around. How true that is one can only speculate but it’s certainly debatable—to say the least.
During a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, Gates explained that he thinks cryptocurrency is really bad since it helps people avoid financial transaction traceability.
“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.,” he said, pointing out that cryptocurrency is currently used to buy drugs like fentanyl, which means that “it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way.” Quite a statement from the computer mogul.
Gates also said that he believes “the speculative wave around ICOs and cryptocurrencies is super risky for those who go long.”
Gates is definitely not wrong here. There’s considerable abuse in the crypto world with a wide and assorted variety of scams where ICOs are concerned. Add those to the coin pumping and dumping which really has had a negative effect on the industry as a whole. However, one also has to consider that transferring actual cash is quite easy up to point, but it’s definitely far more difficult to transfer cash than cryptocurrencies. Apart from the fact that cash has to be carried, the physical element of it makes it very difficult to hide. With cryptocurrencies that’s not the case and new tokens are becoming ever more innovative at anonymity.
What Gates seems to conveniently forget is that drug dealers and terrorists have to move the stuff around at some point, so the payment element is only part of the equation. State authorities and governments also have to power to go after illicit cash transactions using crypto since most exchanges actually convert the cryptocurrency into fiat at some point. Additionally, rich and wealthy countries have seen a considerable fall in crime due to the use of much better technology to fight it. So Gates is being slightly sensationalist when he states that cryptocurrency is actually killing people since it is really not the case.