For some time now, critics of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have argued that the technology is almost exclusively used for criminal activities. However, analysis by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) indicates that the opposite is now true. DEA special agent Lilita Infante has suggested that as much as 90% of cryptocurrency activity is driven by speculators engaged in legal trading of digital currencies, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
Infante’s work as part of the Cyber Investigative Task Force has involved investigations into digital currency use and the so-called dark web. For the last five years, that work has required her to analyze blockchain data, as Bitcoin was featured in many of the cases she investigated. While those early examinations of the data suggested that criminal activities once accounted for 90% of all crypto transactions, that trend has now been reversed.
However, Infante said that criminals are still using Bitcoin, and the total illicit transaction volume has grown in the last five years:
“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. The majority of transactions are used for price speculation.’’
Still, Infante claimed that she’s not worried about criminals using Bitcoin or other digital currencies. She noted that the public, immutable nature of blockchains actually works to law enforcement’s advantage when tracking illegal transactions, and that wallet addresses no longer provide the anonymity that crypto users once took for granted:
“The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people. I actually want them to keep using them.’’