When Bill Gates introduced the Windows® operating system it changed how we use computers forever and made Gates one of the wealthiest men on the planet.
But it was also Gate’s unique business model that made Microsoft the powerhouse that it is today. Instead of hiring programmers to write his code he chose mathematicians, physicists and other scientists under the theory that if they were that smart computer programming would be a piece of cake. Gates was most certainly correct as the company’s success amply demonstrates. Now this software legend is adding his thoughts on Bitcoin and what it might mean to the future.
Gates has been mostly silent on the issue of Bitcoin, which is a bit strange considering his background in both tech and business, but he finally broke his meditation about Bitcoin in a recent interview with Erik Schatzker on Bloomberg TV’s Smart Street show recently. Schatzker asked his opinion of cryptocurrencies during the interview and Gates replied:
“Bitcoin is exciting because it shows how cheap it can be. Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient.”
But the richest man in America did not stop there. He went on to talk about the bad reputation that Bitcoin has gotten from a media that only seems to report when something bad happens, such as Mt. Gox and Silk Road. While Bitcoin has been used by criminals over the years, in today’s world this is simply no longer as true because more and more ordinary citizens are adopting it with enthusiasm. Gates shed light on this aspect, stating:
“The customers we’re talking about aren’t trying to be anonymous. They’re willing to be known, so Bitcoin technology is key and you can add to it or you could build a similar technology where there’s enough attribution where people feel comfortable that this is nothing to do with terrorism or any type of money laundering.”
Gates also spoke at the Sibos 2014 financial-services industry conference in Boston recently and while his support for a new age in finance was not apparent, he was most definitely in favor of using Bitcoin as a payments solution at the very least. During his speech he made it clear that he believed virtual currencies will take the forefront leading to all financial transactions being “digital, universal and almost free.”
Microsoft’s legendary founder was clearly not a proponent of anonymity however, which might signal the company’s possible interest in developing its own virtual currency sometime in the future. Since Gates departure from the company’s day-to-day operations, its new leadership has been expanding its reach, acquiring companies like Skype (2011), Pando (2013) and Mojang, makers of the popular video game Minecraft (2014).
Cointelegraph spoke with Edmund Moy, former US Mint Director and now taking the lead with Fortress Gold Group about Gates and Bitcoin. Moy suspected that Gates would be looking into Bitcoin and for the most part is in sync with his opinions. He told us that Gates' comments about cost efficiencies when comparing Bitcoin to currency and the importance of the blockchain in fostering growth in developing economies were spot on.
But the former head of the US Mint also noted that Gates failed to mention that cryptography actually makes transactions more secure instead of less and might actually lower incidents of financial crimes. Moy explained:
“I understand his point about Bitcoin used for illegal purposes and the relative anonymity, but the public nature of the block chain and Bitcoin’s pseudo-anonymity does offer more transparency than a cash transaction. High value illegal transaction are easier with bitcoin/Bitcoin because of the digital aspect and avoids the electronic financial transaction system, which has checks and balances to catch transactions like terrorist financing and illegal activity.”
We are finding that most of the real experts in both technology and finance, as well as many in law enforcement, are pretty much unconcerned with the idea that Bitcoin will make it easier for most criminals because of the public nature of the blockchain.