Many people have commented and speculated on bitcoin over the past year. On Monday, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, hosted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) event on Reddit. Redditors asked Gates a wide range of questions, such as his thoughts on the new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and his most guilty pleasure, but one particular response is garnering widespread attention among the bitcoin community.
Gates was asked by user shiruken about his opinions regarding cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Within moments, it became one of the hottest questions of the Q&A session and garnered 1,890 points.
Although the technology pioneer didn’t provide Microsoft’s stance on bitcoin, Gates did say that his philanthropic endeavor, Gates Foundation, is heavily involved in digital currency. He believes digital money will continue to flourish and become an important payment system in the developing world that will aid the impoverished – he cited Kenya’s M-pesa as an example.
“The foundation is involved in digital money but unlike Bitcoin it would not be anonymous digital money. In Kenya M-pesa is being used for almost half of all transactions,” stated Gates. “Digital money has low transaction costs which is great for the poor because they need to do financial transactions with small amounts of money. Over the next 5 years I think digital money will catch on in India and parts of Africa and help the poorest a lot.”
This isn’t the first time that Gates has commented on cryptocurrencies and bitcoin.
During an interview with Gates, Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett last year, Gates stated: “I think it’s a technical tour de force, but that’s an area where governments are gonna maintain a dominant role.”
Munger, vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and close friends with Buffett, replied to a question about the cryptocurrency by describing bitcoin as “rat poison” and “deeply flaky.”
Other notable personalities have commented on bitcoin recently, both in a positive and negative manner. Former United States Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore noted that he is “a big fan of bitcoin” and that “regulation of money supply needs to be depoliticized.”
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks said this about the virtual currency: “The bitcoin actually has the balance and incentives right, and that is why it is starting to take off.”
Former Texas Republican Congressman and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, who has promoted the idea of competing currencies but is skeptic of bitcoin, has gone as far as saying that bitcoin could be “the destroyer of the dollar.”
“Now, this is a private alternative to the abuse of government and I don’t understand all the computer technology of the bitcoins and the other alternatives, but as long as there is no fraud involved then I’m all in favor of competition,” Paul said in an interview with CNBC last month.
Positive comments from well-respected and renowned individuals could very well be a testament to the strength of bitcoin and the future of the virtual currency industry. Who’s next to say something good about bitcoin? New Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen? Well, her predecessor, Ben Bernanke, did pen a letter to Congress opining that bitcoin “may hold long-term promise.”