Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and technological whiz turned philanthropist, may not be a fan of bitcoin and digital-assets.
Asked during an interview published on Thursday with The Wall Street Journal what technological advancement the world could do without, Gates had this to say:
“The way cryptocurrency works today allows for certain criminal activities. It’d be good to get rid of that,” he quickly added: “I probably should have said bio weapons. That’s a really bad thing.”
The comments from Gates implies that the billionaire technologists is no bitcoin BTCUSD, -0.55% BTC.1, -0.70% enthusiast but his remarks may simply suggest that he feels that cryptocurrencies are prone to abuse by swindlers and in money-laundering schemes—a common criticism of the decentralized digital asset that was created in 2009.
During a CNBC interview that aired on Thursday, Gates adopted a more moderate stance, describing his views on bitcoin as “neutral.”
“I don’t own bitcoin, I’m not short bitcoin, so I’ve taken a neutral view,” he said in the interview that aired on CNBC’s “Sqawk Box” show.
“I do think moving money into a more digital form and getting transaction costs down, that’s something the Gates Foundation does in developing countries,” he added.
“Bitcoin can go up and down just based on the mania or whatever the views are and I don’t have a way of predicting how that will progress,” he said.
Bitcoin prices have seen parabolic moves of late, despite critics who say that it is a technology looking to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, while using outsize amounts of energy to create a single bitcoin.
To be sure, this isn’t the first time, Gates has discussed bitcoin and cryptos but has beliefs have wavered over time. Back in 2018, he said in a separate “Squawk Box” interview that he would bet against bitcoin if he could.
“As an asset class, you’re not producing anything and so you shouldn’t expect it to go up. It’s kind of a pure ‘greater fool theory’ type of investment,” Gates said on CNBC two years ago.
Prices of the cryptocurrency were trading above $52,000 on Thursday and have gained nearly 80% so far in 2021. By comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.78% was up 2.7%, the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.85% was holding on to a 4% year-to-date gain, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -1.17% is up nearly 8% so far this year. Gold GC00, +0.21%, an asset that bitcoin is often pit against, is down 6.4% since the start of 2021.
Gates, who boasts a net worth of $123 billion, according to Forbes, making him the second wealthiest man in the world behind Amazon.com’s AMZNJeff Bezos, has been getting more attention from his comments on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has ravaged the domestic economy and brought most of the world’s business and personal activity to a screeching halt.