Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder aimed cryptocurrencies during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session Tuesday, much to the ire of some social media commentators.
Responding to a question about cryptocurrencies, the second-richest man in the world said the ability of governments to track money laundering or terrorist funds “is a good thing.”
Gates continued, saying:
Right now, cryptocurrencies are also used for buying fentanyl and some other drugs, so it is a rare technology which has caused deaths in a fairly direct way. I think that the speculative wave around Initial Coin Offerings and cryptocurrencies is super risky for those that go long.
Naturally, the crypto world was not impressed by the answer of Bill Gates.
There were some reactions on Twitter which immediately started dissecting the response on both semantic and technical grounds.
Venture capitalist Anthony Pompliano has pointed out that all cryptocurrencies in the world are not strictly anonymous, and he also said the same concerns Gates stated could be applied to traditional fiat currencies.
Pompliano said of Gates:
He spewed the normal nonsense about funding terrorism, as well as money laundering.
The developer of Bitcoin, Udi Wertheimer agreed to say that cryptocurrencies did not cause deaths in a fairly direct way any more than cash did.
A moderation of the /r/bitcoin subreddit provided a more detailed response, pointing out that the main feature of cryptocurrencies is their immutability, as well as their ability to support trustless transactions, rather than anonymity.
Know-your-client, as well as anti-money laundering laws also make it difficult for users to cash out their cryptocurrency holdings anonymously, that should discourage the purchase of illegal goods, the user stated.
Some other users simply laughed. Neeraj Agrawal, the Coin Center’s head of communication has joked that Gates was a “broke nocoiner,” while @WhalePanda said that the billionaire had joined “old man yells at bitcoin” list.
User @DanDarkPil identified a positive use case for bitcoin, telling Bill Gates that he had bought a banana.
But, not every of the response was as harsh. One user on Twitter said that it was understandable that someone as rich as Bill Gates would not bother to research “some internet money scheme thoroughly.”
It is not the first time that Gates has criticized cryptocurrencies for lacking transparency.
During another AMA in the year 2014, he commented that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was also working on a digital form of money but, “unlike bitcoin, it is not going to be anonymous.
But, at the time when he was far more optimistic about bitcoin, saying that “bitcoin is better than the currency in that you do not have to physically be in the same place, and of course for large transactions currency can get pretty inconvenient.”
He was more cautious in the next year, 2015, saying that while he saw the potential for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to make a huge effect, he did not think that bitcoin is going to specifically become a payment system of the future.