Universal basic income – the idea of guaranteeing a minimum level of income for all – has a long history of been framed as a radical proposal, a way to address issues ranging from wealth distribution and economic justice through to degrowth and gender equality. Yet an increasing number of proponents, especially in international development and public policy circles, see basic income as an efficient technological solution to poverty and economic insecurity. Critical development studies scholars have overwhelmingly problematized such ‘rendering technical’ of complex social, economic and political issues. In this paper, we use a critical development lens to point to two areas of particular danger to the transformative potential of basic income: coloniality and class relations. We do so through two case studies: a proposed basic income for Indigenous Australians and the support of UBI by high-net-worth individuals in California’s Silicon Valley. Using these two cases, we argue that despite best intentions, without critical engagement and nuance around questions of power, the radical potential of basic income may be jeopardized, with basic income becoming another technological quick-fix of development and policy interventions.