That $100 worth of bitcoin you bought around Christmas? Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates not only thinks it’s a “super risky” investment — it just might kill you.
Gates shared his thoughts on cryptocurrency in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session on Tuesday, and it doesn’t sound like he’ll be exchanging Microsoft stock for bitcoin, or any other popular coins, anytime soon. The problem for Gates? The pseudo-anonymity of most coins can allow users to engage in illicit activity.
“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,” said Gates on Reddit. “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.”
One commenter responded to Gates, saying that government-issued currencies can and have been used for illegal deals in the past, too. The former Microsoft boss agreed with the commenter but also said it’s still easier to track crooks using traditional money.
“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,” said Gates.
For the uninitiated, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin offer a different level of obscurity. Coins are sent to “digital wallet” addresses, identified by a random string of numbers and letters, rather than an account user’s name. But, that doesn’t mean they’re incapable of being tracked by the feds. The FBI was able to seize $28.5 million worth of bitcoin when it cracked down on Silk Road, the leading online marketplace for drugs, in 2013.