In a new interview with Bloomberg, US Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Lilita Infante has noted that criminal activity now amounts to approximately 10% of on-chain Bitcoin transactions – down from a 90% high during 2013.
Speaking broadly, Infante noted that the volume of legitimate (non-illicit) Bitcoin transactions has grown substantially in the years since 2013 – saying “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.’’
While Bitcoin critics have noted that cryptocurrencies could be used to empower the trade of narcotics and fuel other illegal practices, Infante expressed that chain analysis tools can provide insight into the use of blockchain-based digital currencies.
“The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people… I actually want them to keep using them”, Infante quipped.
In February this year, Europol cyber-crime analyst Jarek Jacubchek revealed that ‘hardcore criminals’ have begun to shift their approach and have abandoned Bitcoin for darkcoins such as Monero, Zcash, and Dash.
At the time, Jacubchek elaborated to say that Europol “can see a quite obvious and distinct shift from bitcoin to cryptocurrencies that can provide a higher level of privacy. So basically, you can achieve a higher level of privacy using these ‘altcoins’, and these altcoins are either using stealth as the basis, like monero. There are also coins like dash that do not have stealth addresses, they have transparent addresses, but they have a mixing process that is part of the protocol.”
During her interview with Bloomberg, Infante added that while privacy-focused cryptocurrencies may prove more feasible for criminals, the DEA possessed ‘ways of tracking’ illicit transactions within such networks – though the special agent did not elect to comment further.