Bitcoin has been associated with criminal activity for as long as people can remember. That is quite worrisome for many reasons. Even though Bitcoin lacks privacy and anonymity, criminals still flock to this payment option because of its global appeal. According to a new study, however, that situation may come to change very soon. In fact, it seems criminals are showing an increasing interest in Litecoin and Dash, even though neither currency is more suitable than Bitcoin.
Bitcoin Isn’t a Tool for Criminals
Most people already know criminals tend to focus on privacy and anonymity when cashing out their financial gains. On paper, cryptocurrencies should be excellent for this type of activity, assuming they offer anonymity, privacy, or both. Unfortunately, Bitcoin doesn’t provide any of those features, yet it is still the go-to payment solution for a lot of criminals as of right now. Other than using coin mixers or converting from Bitcoin to more anonymous currencies, there is no way to cash out one’s BTC holdings in a convenient manner.
We often see stories related to ransomware and other malware tricking users into making a Bitcoin payment. Additionally, whenever a major hack occurs in the cryptocurrency world, Bitcoin remains the main target for a lot of criminals. For a currency which has a public blockchain broadcasting transactions and sender information in real time, Bitcoin is clearly not suited for criminal activity whatsoever. It was never designed to be either private or anonymous, although it does provide a degree of pseudonymity to its users.
According to a recent study by Recorded Future, that situation will come to change sooner rather than later. More specifically, there is a real chance that criminals will drop Bitcoin altogether due to its clear lack of privacy and anonymity. Even the mounting transaction fees which seemingly pop up out of nowhere are a cause for concern among cybercriminals these days. Bitcoin is not suited for quick, easy, and anonymous payments, and it never will be. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is something everyone needs to be aware of.
The report hints at a major shift. Rather than using Bitcoin for criminal activity, we may very well see a migration toward Litecoin and Dash. The choice of Litecoin, while interesting, doesn’t make much sense for people looking to hide their identity first and foremost. Similar to Bitcoin, Litecoin has no privacy and anonymity features whatsoever. It does provide cheaper and faster transactions, which could be a big selling point in the future.
The use of Dash also raises a lot of questions. While this currency does provide optional anonymity and privacy, it is not the perfect solution that people may think it is. With its semi-centralized model, transactions which can be analyzed even when additional privacy is in place, and anonymity features which can be disabled by the developers on a whim, Dash doesn’t make much sense for criminals either. Even so, the use of both Dash and Litecoin is on the rise across the darknet, according to this study.
As it happens, there is no darknet which openly accepts Dash as of right now. Nor is there any market which accepts Litecoin, as far as most people are aware. It is a bit unclear how this report drew those conclusions, as it projects a very different situation from the current reality. Scouting message boards, marketplaces, and illegal services is a valid way to have aggregated this data. However, these results may need to be taken with a grain of salt as of right now.