Special agent Lilita Infante with the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has stated that illegal activity no longer dominates bitcoin’s use. Instead, bitcoin speculators are now the main users of the cryptocurrency.
According to Bloomberg, Infante she first began noticing an increase in bitcoin’s use in illicit activities five years ago. Analysis revealed that the criminal activity made up about 90% of the coin’s use. Now, however, it has shrunk to about 10%, contradicting the popular perception that it’s mainly used by criminals.
Infante is part of a 10-person Cyber Investigative Task Force that focuses on investigating dark web and cryptocurrency-related cases. Her and her team first started noticing an increase in transaction volume associated with illegal uses in 2013, and states that the currency is still popular amongst criminals.
“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,’’ she said in an interview. “The majority of transactions are used for price speculation.’’
Bitcoin often receives flak from the media describing its primary use as being money laundering and buying narcotics and other outlawed goods. And while bitcoin and altcoins are garnering the attention of criminal organizations like drug cartels, law enforcement are using blockchain technology to their own advantage as well. Bitcoin and blockchain are public ledgers, providing a valuable opportunity for agents to track transaction and patterns. While wallet addresses once shrouded users’ identities, Infante says that’s not the case anymore.