Bitcoin is a digital currency first invented by a Japanese mathematician Satoshi Nakamotoin 2008 and introduced as open-source software in 2009. This cryptocurrency received much attention when its exchange rate skyrocketed last year, and many technocrats strongly support its potential to disrupt the existing financial institution and payment systems.
Listen to what Bill Gates has to say about Bitcoin.
[Business ★★]Bill Gates: Bitcoin Is ‘Better Than Currency’
(P1) After long remaining mostly mum on Bitcoin, Microsoft’s legendary co-founder Bill Gates has spoken. At the Sibos 2014 financial-services industry conference in Boston, America’s richest man just threw his weight behind the controversial cryptocash. Well, at least as a low-cost payments solution.
(P2) At the event, when asked about Bitcoin’s potential to ease the cost of payment transactions for moving money from one place to another Gates waxed mostly positively about the virtual money.
(P3) “Bitcoin is exciting because it shows how cheap it can be,” he told Erik Schatzker during a Bloomberg TV’s Smart Street show interview yesterday. “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.”
(P4) Gates again reiterated his stance on cryptocurrencies when he delivered the event’s closing keynote address, in which he stated that, in the future, financial transactions will eventually “be digital, universal and almost free.”
(P5) While he seems relatively bullish on how inexpensive transacting in Bitcoin can be, Gates isn’t singing the praises of its anonymity. The billionaire alluded in an oblique, somewhat rambling fashion to some of the more nefarious anonymous uses associated with Bitcoin.
(P6) “The customers we’re talking about aren’t trying to be anonymous,” he told Schatzker. “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.”
To see the portion of the interview in which Gates directly addresses Bitcoin, watch the video below:
(P7) The last time Gates publicly commented on Bitcoin was last February, the day Bitcoin currency conversions debuted on Microsoft’s Bing search engine, when he skirted questions about Microsoft’s stance on the cryptocurrency and subsequent others during a lively Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session.
(P8) Instead of answering Bitcoin-related queries head on, Gates shifted the focus to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-backed Vodaphone M-pesa, a mobile phone-based money transfer and microfinancing service in Kenya. Gates said that his organization is “involved in digital money, but unlike Bitcoin it would not be anonymous digital money.” He went on to predict that “digital money will catch on in India and parts of Africa and help the poorest a lot” over the next five years.
(P9) Now that Gates is officially Microsoft’s technical advisor, perhaps he’ll make a push for Microsoft to accept Bitcoin (or another virtual money) as a form of payment and/or weave cryptocurrency into the company’s nascent “Zero-Effort” mobile payments initiative. Only time will tell.
To print: dl=0 https://www.dropbox.com/s/s7oapk2ayfwzzk0/%5BB019b%5D%20Bill%20Gates%20Bitcon.pdf?dl=0
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor.
The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Describe Gates’ stance on Bitcoin. (HINT: overall – P2, positive – P3 & 4, negative – P5 & 6)
- Why do you think Gates’ support of the crytocurrency is headline-worthy? In other words, what impacts do you think this will bring? (HINT: P9)
- There is much controversy around the cryptocash in terms of its technological innovation, benefits, anonymity (hence known as the black money), legal issues, etc. What is your own stance on these issues? Do you think it will become the next form of payment in the future?