There are many influential figures in the financial world that have expressed different opinions about Bitcoin, and the future of cryptocurrency. One of those is Bill Gates – the principal founder of Microsoft, and one of the richest individuals in the world. It’s important to note that Gates’ influence is not limited by any means to the financial or tech world, as he is considered one of the most important figures in philanthropy, as well. Specifically, he has founded the world’s largest charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that has over $50 billion in assets. The Foundation’s main aims are to reduce poverty and increase access to information technology. Gates himself has donated over $28 billion to the Foundation.
While philanthropy might be a passion of Bill Gates – he has offered varying opinions on Bitcoin throughout the years. Since Gates has a status bove a typical financial leader and is widely considered one of the most influential people in the world. One manner in which this is evident is the fact that he is able to influence OTHER billionaires, as Zuckerberg has spoken on how the business magnate has called him his “hero”. For example, Gates teamed up with legendary investor Warren Buffett and convinced 40 billionaires to give away half of their wealth – although it is more of a “promise” than a legal agreement.
Flip-Flopping On Bitcoin
Gates has an immense amount of wealth of over $95 billion. Many in the cryptocurrency community feel that his negative comments about Bitcoin have more to do with the fact that he might be threatened by the fact that fiat currency – which he has plenty of – might be threatened. Others dismiss that idea, explaining that Gates could always purchase Bitcoin if he thought it was a solid investment. Of course, Gates’ influence means that his comments could affect the price.
For example, during a February 2018 Reddit AMA, Gates seemed to go out of his way to highlight the dangers of Bitcoin. Specifically, he stated: “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. Right now, cryptocurrencies are used for buying fentanyl and other drugs so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way.”
Months later, he seemed to go further with his comments, suggesting that he would short Bitcoin if there was an easy way to do it.” He told CNBC that it was a “pure ‘greater fool theory’ kind of investment.” He elaborated, “Bitcoin and ICOs, I believe completely [they’re some] of the crazier, speculative things.”
The Winklevoss Twins, two of the most well-known leaders in the cryptocurrency space, responded to Gates. Tyler Winklevoss is the founder of cryptocurrency exchange Gemini and the two poured millions into Bitcoin into 2013, which netted them a handsome return. They urged Gates to put his money where his mouth is. His tweet in May 2018 went viral, and Gates never responded:
Dear @BillGates there is an easy way to short bitcoin. You can short #XBT, the @CBOE Bitcoin (USD) Futures contract, and put your money where your mouth is! cc @CNBC @WarrenBuffett https://t.co/4JIhF5vWsZ
— Tyler Winklevoss (@tylerwinklevoss) May 7, 2018
Gates Coming Around
One interesting aspect about Gates’ negative comments is that he actually praised Bitcoin years ago. For example, he told CNBC in 2014 that it was “better than currency”. He elaborated that it showed how “inconvenient” fiat currency could be when it comes to “large transactions”.
Gates appears to be coming around to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general, as he seems to realize that it has massive applications when it comes to helping those in poverty without access to traditional financial institutions.
In this video – Gates states: “If we were building a financial system from scratch today, we would do it on a digital platform. Digital could lower the cost of a range of transactions by as much as 90%, providing nearly universal access to innovative financial products and services.”
He specifically relates to how cryptocurrency could help the world’s most poorest people, elaborating: “With more than 2.5 billion people not able to [get] formal financial services, the opportunity compels us to do it. Poor people do have assets: their intellect, their labor, their savings – their problem is that they don’t have financial tools to capitalize on these resources. They are trapped in inefficient cash economy that robs them of opportunities to ensure themselves against risk, invest in their productivity, and ultimately help lift them out of poverty.”
He added, “Transforming the underlying economics of financial services through digital currency will help those who live in poverty directly.”