Global politicians’ claims that crypto is the criminal world’s currency of choice may be wide of the mark, another report reitarates.
The findings were detailed in an annual report by the American blockchain analytics firm CipherTrace, which was bought up last year by the payments giant Mastercard.
Although the new report found that the total “dollar value” of “illicit cryptocurrency activity” grew in 2021 to “a much larger” sum, its authors claimed that “it is important to note that it continues to decline as a percentage of overall activity.”
As the crypto market grew last year, the company stated that criminal activity shrank as a percentage of total market movement.
The company wrote:
“[We] estimate the total percent for 2021 illicit activity was between 0.10% and 0.15% of overall cryptocurrency activity compared to between 0.62% and 0.65% percent of overall cryptocurrency activity in 2020.”
As reported, blockchain analysis company Chainalysis also found that transactions involving illicit addresses represented just 0.15% of crypto transaction volume in 2021.
However, the company added that “shifts in illicit activity characteristics have been noticeable year-over-year,” although international police forces and judiciaries appear to have stepped up their own countermeasures.
The report’s authors wrote:
“Law enforcement announcements of seizures were plentiful in 2021 and 2022.”
They also conceded that it is “certainly fair to say that the world of cryptocurrency saw enormous growth in 2021 and that brought with it an increase in illicit activity too.”
The authors claimed that evidence from the first half of 2022 showed that such criminality would likely “continue this trend,” but added that “world governments are starting to take decisive action to ensure that the space isn’t just a modern day Wild West.”
They pointed to the fact that “big fines” have already been handed out in the sector – including the USD 41 million penalty handed out to Tether. This, they claimed, was proof that crypto “organizations” now “have a very real incentive to shape up or face more heavy losses at the hands of government.”
The authors also identified trends that they have noticed in the “illicit” crypto world, namely:
- an increase in DeFi hacks and fraud;
- the rise of “next generation” coin mixing services;
- the emergence of DeFi and NFTs as “potential money laundering schemes”;
- ransomware’s evolution.
They also predicted a “continued global evolution and roll-out” of crypto-specific regulations and stated that there had been an “increase [in] cryptocurrency-related sanctions” of late.