A Mere 0.08% of Crypto Transactions Are Associated with Illegal Activity, and Fiat Currency Is Used for Crime 1,000-2,500 Times More Than Crypto

January 31, 2020 / by Zachary Mashiach

Over the years Bitcoin (BTC) has often been the target of scrutiny from politicians, regulators, Wall Street, and the mainstream media, with the common theme of attacks being that Bitcoin (BTC) is mostly used for drugs, crime, and terrorism. However, new data from Chainalysis shows that only 0.08% of crypto transactions are connected with illegal activity, equivalently meaning 99.92% of crypto transactions are above board and generated by legitimate financial activity.

Chainalysis analyzed crypto transactions for almost all popular cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), USD Coin (USDC), Gemini Dollar (GUSD), True USD (TUSD), Tether (USDT), Dai, Binance Coin (BNB), Basic Attention Token (BAT), and several others. Basically, this Chainanalysis study is applicable to the whole crypto space, not just Bitcoin (BTC).

However, notably absent from this study are privacy coins like Monero (XMR), Dash, and Zcash (ZEC), presumably because privacy coins are so anonymous that they cannot be analyzed. That being said, Chainalysis found that only one out of 49 darknet markets accepts Monero (XMR) although Chainalysis thinks that could change in 2020.

The results are that darknet market crypto revenues surged 70% to $790 million in 2019, while the share of incoming darknet crypto transactions relative to all crypto transactions increased from 0.04% to 0.08%, which is the first time it has increased in years.

Zooming out, the share of illicit crypto transactions was around 1% in 2015 and declined to less than 0.1% in recent years. This shows that the use of Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies for legitimate trading, investment, and business activity has been increasingly dominating the crypto space, and illicit activity has little to do with crypto’s rise in popularity in recent years. Even with the surge in darknet market crypto activity in 2019, the amount of crypto transacted on darknet markets is practically negligible compared to the total size of the crypto economy.

Clearly, the stats show that only a tiny fraction of Bitcoin (BTC) transactions involve illicit activity, and therefore anyone who says Bitcoin (BTC) is used mostly by criminals and terrorists is flat out wrong.

Further, any type of currency can be used by criminals, such as the US dollar (USD) and other major global fiat currencies. Indeed, cash is the currency of choice among drug dealers and thieves. The United States Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that 2-5% of the global gross domestic product (GDP) is associated with criminal money laundering, amounting to a staggering $800 billion to $2 trillion.

In other words, there is between 1,000 to 2,500 times more illicit activity conducted with fiat currencies like the USD than Bitcoin (BTC). Despite this fact, numerous politicians, regulators, and influential people have attacked Bitcoin (BTC), saying that Bitcoin (BTC) is mostly used by criminals, even though the use of fiat by criminals is thousands of times greater.

Thus, even in a year like 2019 when darknet crypto activity surged 70%, the share of illicit crypto activity is a measly 0.08%, meaning that the crypto space is by far dominated by legitimate financial activity.

So the next time a news article or influential person alleges that Bitcoin (BTC) is a criminal or terrorist haven, it’s important to remember these facts.