10% of Bitcoin transactions involve illegal activity, with speculation now leading the industry

Speculation around Bitcoin has become its primary driver, overtaking illegal activity, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Five years ago, Bloomberg reports, data showed that around 90 per cent of Bitcoin transactions were linked to criminal activity, but this has since dropped down to 10 per cent with market speculation now the primary area of interest.

Lilita Infante, DEA special agent and part of a 10-strong Cyber Investigative Task Force, said: “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.”

Of course, while the percentage of illegal transactions has shrunk, the overall market has grown massively and so the amount of criminal activity done with crypto is no where near being erradicated. In fact, transactions on the dark web are made exclusively via cryptocurrency.

That said, law enforcement can also use this to their advantage in the fight against crime, as blockchain technology allows them to track transactions, patterns and wallet information.

There are also other arguments, such as that made by a British-Canadian research team that the involvement of cryptocurrency in drugs trading – the rate of which almost tripled between 2013 and 2016 – is actually helping to reduce harm, rather than heightening it.

According to the study, the ability to avoid face-to-face meetings, leave user reviews, and complete much of the process online are all relative perks of using crypto in the sale of drugs, firearms and more.