Bitcoin has officially left behind all negative connotations relating to its use for funding illegal and criminal activities. One of the most reputable authorities in the field of investigating such activities, agent Lilita Infante of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, has recently shared the agency’s findings in an interview with Bloomberg.
Crime Investigators See Decline in Illegal Use of Bitcoin
Agent Lilita Infante has been following the connection between trafficking and the blockchain technology since the early days of the Bitcoin. Five years ago, 90% of the total volume of Bitcoin transactions on the market was connected with illegal activities. Now, this volume has shrunk to 10%, meaning that the massive majority of Bitcoin transactions are legal, between investors and speculators.
That is not to say that criminals have stopped using cryptocurrency altogether. The Cyber Investigative Task Force agent Lilita Infante belongs to, still identifies significant amounts of Bitcoin in their investigation. Since 2013
The volume has grown tremendously, the amount of transactions and the dollar value has grown tremendously over the years in criminal activity, but the ratio has decreased, explained agent Infante.
This situation is explained by the large number of people who have access to cryptocurrency at present, compared to a few years ago. In January 2014, the average daily volume of Bitcoin transactions was the equivalent of $50 million. At the moment, it is $5 billion. Also, many other cryptocurrencies have appeared on the market, Bitcoin being now only one of a number of different cryptocurrencies.
Legal Transactions Are Now the Norm
Despite popular beliefs that Bitcoin is the payment instrument of cyber criminals, the reality is that cryptocurrencies are now legitimate assets, used in legal trading on various exchange platforms by speculators and investors. As these platforms grow, regulations are made to create a fair and transparent framework for the transactions performed on them.
Five years ago, 90% of the total volume of Bitcoin transactions on the market was connected with illegal activities. Now, this volume has shrunk to 10%, meaning that the massive majority of Bitcoin transactions are legal, between investors and speculators.
Large and reputable companies, including some of the best known financial institutions in the world, have started adding cryptocurrencies to their portfolios or consider investing in ICO startups. In this context, the above mentioned popular beliefs have become an urban myth which, little by little, will fade out of the collective memory.
Fighting Fire with Fire
While criminals still use cryptocurrencies for illegal transactions on the dark web, they are doing it at an increased risk. The very principle behind cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, is now used by law enforcement agencies to track the transactions and identify illegal usage patterns.
The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people. I actually want them to keep using them, affirmed DEA agent Lilita Infante in the interview.
The more blockchain technology becomes mainstream, the less it will offer cyber criminals protection against the law enforcement agents’ effort to put a stop to their activities. Thus, the technology itself will lose its negative connotations and will become a force of change for the good. This is already shown by various projects and activities across the globe where blockchain proves to be an innovative solution for age old problems.
Tamara is a marketing and PR professional, enthusiastic about crypto, blockchain and technology in general. She’s the editor at Bitcoin UK.