Bill Gates: Almost Everyone Will Bank on Phones in 2030 — but Not Use Bitcoin

By Kyle Torpey Jan 29, 2015 8:51 AM EST

Bill Gates bitcoin

NEW YORK (InsideBitcoins) — Bill and Melinda Gates recently released their Gates Annual Letter, which gives the world an update on the plans and predictions of the Gates Foundation. One of the more interesting aspects of this year’s letter has to do with the concept of mobile banking. While many in the developed world already have access to banking on their mobile devices, the concept of using a phone as an access point for a bank account is only now taking off in places like Africa and Southeast Asia. Many have noted that some of these developing countries may skip the traditional banking system completely and move directly to Internet-connect payment services such as PayPal.

Gates noted that he believes “almost everyone will have a mobile money bank account” by 2030, but he doesn’t appear to be too bullish on bitcoin’s role in that financial revolution.

Gates is not a bitcoin believer

Many people in the bitcoin community, especially individuals on various social media platforms, seem to believe that Bill Gates is a proponent of bitcoin who understands that everyone in the world is going to be using the cryptocurrency by 2030. While Gates is definitely a believer in using some sort of mobile banking platform to connect developing countries to the world economy, he doesn’t seem to keen on the idea of pushing the less-fortunate of the world into cryptocurrencies. As he told The Verge last week, his main issues with bitcoin are the potentially anonymous nature of the currency, the volatility associated with holding the currency, and the fact that payments are not reversible.

Instead of opting for bitcoin as a universal solution, Gates sees mobile banking opportunities for the developing world coming from traditional, centralized institutions such as PayPal and M-Pesa.

Open vs controlled protocols for money

If we’re going to live in a world where mobile banking is ubiquitous, then the only question left is whether we’re going to be using open or controlled protocols for money. Centralized mobile banking options are still subject to censorship, inflation, fraud, and a variety of other issues pointed out by Satoshi Nakamoto in his original white paper. These issues also tend to be more severe in the kinds of places where Gates sees mobile banking exploding over the next fifteen years.

Bitcoin as an unrestricted solution

Although there are many people who believe that people in various developing countries around the world should be turning to bitcoin right now, that may not be the best course of action. After all, these are usually individuals who do not have much savings — if any at all — so risking their daily spending money on something as volatile as bitcoin wouldn’t make sense.

On the other hand, there are solutions in the works that could be valuable to people who wish to have less-restrictive access to the global economy. Whether you’re talking about colored coins or smart contract-powered hedging, there are a variety of solutions in the works for removing the issue of volatility and helping individuals take advantage of bitcoin for their own specific use cases. If the legitimate issues with bitcoin pointed out by Gates can be resolved over the next few years, it will be interesting to see how traditional, trusted entities can compete with an open protocol for money.

You can follow @kyletorpey on Twitter and visit his personal website at kyletorpey.com.

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