Bill Gates discusses Bitcoin in 2018
The Microsoft founder announced this week that he and his wife of 27 years, Melinda, will be getting divorced. Currently, Mr Gates is the fourth richest man in the world after Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and French luxury goods owner Bernard Arnault, but should his fortune be split in half experts say he could drop to number 17. While Mr Gates has been quite critical of Bitcoin, the 65-year-old has praised the “really good technology” of blockchain – the decentralised ledger of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network.
And while Prof Alexander, from the University of Sussex Business School, believes Mr Gates would not create a rival cryptocurrency, she told Express.co.uk that he may have “decided privately” to invest in cryptocurrency recently.
She added: “[Mark] Zuckerberg has put forward Diem for Facebook and Bill Gates would be more likely to go down that route, the Diem route, than Bitcoin or Dogecoin – he would not create a new one.
“It started off as Libra, Facebook was going to have its own digital currency to be used for buying and selling things through Facebook.
“It would make it into the new Amazon and I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon then gets involved in digital currencies once Diem gets off to a start.”
Microsoft founder Bill Gates could rival Amazon’s Jeff Bezos
Gates announced he will split with his wife
Diem, as it is now known, has shrunk significantly in scope since it was first announced.
Major launch partners pulled support in quick succession last year because of its controversial nature and the regulatory hurdles it faced due to concerns from lawmakers.
According to the Financial Times, Diem could debut as a single coin backed by the dollar this year.
Stuart Levey, Diem Association CEO, said in December: “The Diem project will provide a simple platform for FinTech innovation to thrive and enable consumers and businesses to conduct instantaneous, low-cost, highly secure transactions.”
Facebook initially pitched Libra as a mainstream cryptocurrency to make digitally transferring money quicker and easier than it is today, and companies like Facebook would be able to offer financial services around it by adding a digital wallet, called Calibra.
Mark Zuckerberg is CEO of Facebook
But Prof Alexander explained why that caused issues.
She said: “US regulators came after Libra very hard, saying it was a security threat, Libra was slammed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“But now Diem has come back and it hasn’t risen in the news yet, but it’s clear Facebook are determined to get their own token off.
“Bill Gates is likely to be the sort of older person who may have investments in Coinbase to get an indirect investment in cryptocurrency that way.
“He might even buy some coins, but I don’t see him producing his own coin, you need a business to produce a coin.
“If Amazon doesn’t follow suit, it would lose market share.
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“They may well be watching to see what happens with Diem, but behind-the-scenes I would not be surprised if they are ready to react.”
And the expert believes we are only heading towards more similar situations.
She said: “This is quite frightening because of how these coins and tokens operate – there are two models – a stable coin and the other has a free value that goes up and down with the value of the company like shares.
“It’s now possible for larger companies to choose – a few years ago people were talking about Uber using a token which would be like its share, but could also be used to pay for Uber rides.
“Smaller companies don’t have that choice. Now we have tonnes of start-ups issuing coins because they can’t go public – all they have is a website and their white papers – they could be a scam.
Diem has been tipped to launch this year
“In the last six months, a whole new level to this amazing Avatar-like world emerged that I call venture capitalist cooperatives.”
Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has previously warned against investing in crypto.
It stated: “If consumers invest, they should be prepared to lose all their money.
“Some investments advertising high returns from crypto assets may not be subject to regulation beyond anti-money laundering.
“Significant price volatility, combined with the difficulties valuing [Bitcoin] reliably, place consumers at a high risk of losses.”
Express.co.uk does not give financial advice. The journalists who worked on this article do not own cryptocurrency.