Technology

How Big Is Crypto Crime, Really?

The European Union is in late-stage talks over how to implement new rules intended to curb dodgy behavior that uses virtual assets – but estimates of the share of crypto payments linked to financial crime vary wildly from 0.15% to a whopping 46% of transaction volumes. There’s clearly a lot of illicit activity in the crypto world – of which some, like scams or hacks, are harmful to honest crypto users, while others might seem like a way of circumventing rules that were unfair in the first place, like government-imposed capital controls. People in the crypto industry like to quote the figures on the lower end of the range, and on Friday, Binance’s CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao tweeted statistics to argue that crypto is safer than fiat. But attempting to get a handle on the exact scale of unlawful virtual asset activity isn’t easy. It usually relies on identifying crypto addresses that appear suspect and totting up their trade volume – but illicit users generally prefer to hide in the shadows.

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