In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen a large number of developments from the bitcoin market, with companies showcasing interest towards the digital currency’s underlying system, US institutions declaring bitcoin a commodity and more.
However, we’ve also seen some negative developments, which we ought to discuss about, as the Europol has just issued a report stating that it believes that it’s likely for bitcoin to become the go-to currency for internet criminals throughout Europe. Based on a report outlining the top cybercrime treats which the European Union faces, we can see how the cryptocurrency is used in illegal activities, alongside with how extortionists use bitcoin to seize funds from people.
According to Europol’s data, it looks like bitcoin accounts for over 40% of the criminal-to-criminal payments which are made on the Internet. To put things better into perspective, it’s also worth pointing out that PayPal only accounts for 25%; therefore bitcoin has outcompeted the world’s largest mobile payments operator in this regards.
While the figures seem scary for the future development of the digital currency, this may represent the number one reason outlining why there is a need for regulation on the bitcoin market. However, due to the anonymous nature of the cryptocurrency, it’s close to impossible for law enforcement to detect criminal-intended bitcoin transactions. In its report, the police agency noted that:
"Although there is no single common currency used by cybercriminals across the EU, it is apparent that bitcoin may gradually be taking on that role. Bitcoin features as a common payment mechanism across almost all payment scenarios, a trend which can only be expected to increase."
As you may already be expecting, most of these transactions are arranged and take place on the dark web, which is a place with pages that aren’t indexed by search engines, filled with illegal activity of all kinds. Regardless of being hard to track, law enforcement is reportedly focusing lots of its resources towards the deep web, as an effort to shut down illegal sites, and find those responsible for operating illegal sites, such as drug bazaars, gun stores and so on.
The Europol also added that: "Any regulation of cryptocurrencies would likely only be applicable and enforceable when applied to identifiable users such as those providing exchange services. The inability to attribute transactions to end users makes it difficult to imagine how any regulation could be enforced for everyday users."
Regardless of this, each online phenomenon like bitcoin has its ups and downs, and regardless of the way people look at it, digital currencies are here to stay. However, it is mandatory for law enforcement agencies to continue their pursuit towards finding digital criminals, and cleaning the bitcoin market, as an effort of making the digital currency be used for its true purpose: decentralized global payments.
Based on everything that has been outlined so far, what do you personally think about the Europol’s report on bitcoin criminal activity? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.