Security

Bill Gates: Cryptocurrencies have directly 'caused deaths' and are 'super risky'

In a Reddit AMA, the Microsoft founder said that cryptocurrencies allow for the easy purchase of fentanyl and other drugs.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates said the anonymity of cryptocurrencies makes it easier to buy drugs like fentanyl, and has "caused deaths in a fairly direct way."
  • Bill Gates said the speculative wave around cryptocurrency ICOs makes them a "super risky" investment long term.

In a recent Reddit AMA, Microsoft founder Bill Gates said that cryptocurrencies have directly "caused deaths" due to their use in the purchase of narcotic drugs like fentanyl. Gates also said that the growing speculation around cryptocurrencies makes them a "super risky" investment.

In the AMA, Gates was asked by Reddit user Askur1337, "Whats your opinion on Crypto Currencies?" Here is the full text of Gates' response:

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.

SEE: Cybersecurity in 2018: A roundup of predictions (Tech Pro Research)

While Gates did acknowledge that anonymity is one of the main value propositions of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Monero, and Ethereum, he also seems to believe that it is their biggest weakness. Gates also appears to be implying that the anonymity of these currencies makes them a barrier to the government's ability to fight crime.

A few Reddit users didn't seem to like Gates' response. User Suuperdad wrote: "you know what else is used to fund terrorism, buy fentanyl and other drugs? The USD." Another user implied that Microsoft Windows might even be used to fund terrorists activities and drug trade as well.

User Always_Question quipped: "Terrorists breath air too, so we should ban that. Tennis shoes as well."

Of course, Bill Gates isn't the only critic of cryptocurrencies. Country leaders from China and South Korea, for example, have banned ICOs, and the EU has said that cryptocurrency isn't actually a currency.

Regardless of the future fate of cryptocurrencies, the Blockchain ledger that underpins them seems to soldier on. Many have argued that Blockchain is actually more valuable, long term, than the cryptocurrencies it powers, as it has the potential to change the future of commerce and financial transactions around the world. Check out our Blockchain cheat sheet for professionals here.

What do you think?

Are cryptocurrencies directly causing deaths? Should they be further regulated? Sound off in the comments.

Also see

Bill Gates
Image: James Martin/CNET

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox