Discussion on cryptocurrencies and criminal economy continues

The discussion on cryptocurrency and criminal economy continues - bitcoin recycling

Le cryptocurrency have been the subject of great debate for some time, with the public opinion divided between proponents of digital currencies, which highlight the usefulness for digital payments and the intent to democratize finance, e detractors, in turn focused on the issue of their own use in the criminal economy. It is an accusation shared by many reports drawn up by companies operating in the cybersecurity sector and by bodies involved in combating organized crime. But what's true?

An urban legend?

The first victim of recurrent accusations of being a tool for the criminal economy has always been the Bitcoin. To understand if the entries have a foundation it is necessary to start from the real data, starting from a 2018 report, "Bitcoin Laundering: an analysis of illicit flows into digital currency service", written by Elliptic e Center on Sanction of Illicit Financing. The study analyzed a series of transactions involving the use of BTCs carried out between the 2013 and the 2016, precisely in order to identify the flows coming from the so-called Dark Web, or the hidden part of the Internet on which the illicit traffic takes place. According to analysts, suspicious transactions in this case amounted to around 1%. However, the same authors of the study called for caution, stating that the sample analyzed was that relative to known addresses, adding that the volume of illicit transactions is certainly higher.
As far as terrorism was concerned, it was the Center for a New American Security to push charges away from Bitcoin. He did it with a studio, "Terrorist Use of Virtual Currencies", published in the 2017, which indicated in Hawala (an informal value transfer system used mainly in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and southern Asia) the preferred tool by terrorist organizations.

All clear? Not exactly

On the other pan of the scale, however, you need to put a recent study published by Europol, which indicates in BTC the payment method most used for illicit practices such as the purchase and sale of drugs, money laundering and the distribution of child pornography. The other coins used in the twists and turns of the dark part of the Internet would be Monero e Dash. In particular, the former would offer the bad guys more confidence to get away with it, thanks to the CryptoNight protocol, which would ensure an additional level of privacy protection in the transactions carried out. The document, "Organized Crime Threat Assessment 2019", recalls in particular how BTC is absolute protagonist of the ransomware, or the practice of asking internet users for a ransom in exchange for removing the malicious code with which access to the data contained in the infected devices was previously blocked.

A not inconsiderable argument in defense of cryptocurrencies

The truth is that virtual currencies can become a tool for the criminal economy like traditional currencies. To understand it better, it would be enough to cite two other reports, the one drawn up by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy of the United States, which estimates the total amount spent annually by drug users in the country at around 100 billion and that published by Global Drug Survey in 2017, where the total of drug addicts using Bitcoin or other virtual currencies is established in 10,1%. All the others, therefore, fall back on traditional financial instruments, without anyone dreaming of indicating them as a launderette of dirty capital or a means of the criminal economy. Why is this charge being made against cryptocurrencies instead?