Outside of Microsoft, Bill Gates has built a philanthropic reputation with an eye toward making more of the world a digitized place. With mobile banking taking root in the developed world, Gates envisions a world that in 2030 will see the world’s poor increasingly using low-fee mobile banking and an advanced infrastructure to better their lives. Yet, despite his bearish nature on using cash and commodities for transactions, Gates isn’t exactly bullish on the idea of Bitcoin as the solution to the global challenges he envisions.
Speaking to Backchannel ahead of the release of the annual Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation letter, Gates opens up about how digital currencies can have a huge impact on global remittances, enabling ease of access to bank accounts in places where the Internet is developing quicker than conventional banking operations. Yet despite that, Bitcoin may not be the best use of new technology. Among Gates’ concerns are the constant fluctuations of Bitcoin’s value as of the last few months, as well as the lack of transaction reversibility being “barriers to adoption” on a wide scale compared to traditional banking.
To Bitcoin’s advantage, though, it does hold the potential to make a huge impact on e-commerce, along with Ripple. One way it can have a major impact is by helping to make money movement easier between people, and can help bring down banking and interchange fees, which also allows for greater increases in e-commerce and digital transactions. To Gates, the push to have low-cost, high-volume digital banking is integral to his goal of making digital commerce widely available, and Bitcoin can play a huge role in that, even if it isn’t a “dominant” player in the currently infant industry.