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Bitcoin’s continued popularity in dark-net transactions is not surprising at all

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It has been a positive turnaround for Bitcoin since the collapse on Black Thursday.

After dropping down to $3800, the durability aspect of Bitcoin has really shined through as the largest digital has bounced back going above the $9000 range at press time.

Now, taking the shine away from BTC’s market performance, a recent report by Rand Corporation suggested that Bitcoin is still the most popular digital asset used by criminals on the darknet.

On May 6th, a 65-page report was released, titled “Exploring the use of Zcash cryptocurrency for illicit or criminal purposes”. As the name suggests, the study was commissioned by Zooko Wilcox, Founder of Zcash privacy token. It was believed that Wilcox was tired of allegations attached to Zcash, that the privacy coin was preferred by criminals in the space.

According to the study, Rand carried out the research on the account of three sectors which involved-money laundering, trade in illicit goods and services, and terrorism financing. The report added,

“Zcash has only a minor presence on the dark web, indicating that Zcash is seen as a less attractive option to dark web users and is used less often compared to other cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin and Monero.”

Source: Rand Corporation

The above pie chart illustrates and distinguishes that Bitcoin is responsible for 59% of the illicit transactions that mentioned BTC, 27% of it was related to Monero, 12% of the transactions were made up by Ethereum, and Zcash was responsible for >=1% of the illicit trade.

Why is it not surprising and not bad at the same time

Now reports from the past have indicated contradicting data as Europol’s report in 2018 suggested that ISIS largely favored the use of Zcash and the same year, Chainalysis stated that there was the increasing popularity of Zcash on the darknet.

However, if we go forward with the data in hand and considered it accurate, it is not exactly surprising Bitcoin is still the most popular in the darknet marketplaces.

Bitcoin’s association with illegal activities is definitely not a plus point but we have to go back with the old idiom which states, ‘any publicity is good publicity.’

More than that statement, it is important to note that the chapter with Silk Road in 2011 started with Bitcoin itself and even though various other alternatives have surfaced since then, the malicious actors possibly still prefer Bitcoin more because it works and it has the highest potential in the crypto space.

Bitcoin played a major role in the recent growth of ransomware attacks, in which hackers steal or encrypt computer files and refuse to give them back unless a Bitcoin payment is made.

Additionally, the structure of Bitcoin without any central authority is still the most decentralized blockchain out there, and other privacy coins do not have the same reputation on the darknet.

In hindsight, Bitcoin proponents have generally been unfazed about the amount of illegal activity facilitated via BTC, because it is relatively less than the larger amounts of illegal activity with traditional currencies, and because Bitcoin has significant drawbacks for criminals.


Biraajmaan is a full-time journalist at AMBCrypto covering the US market. A graduate in Automobile engineering, he writes mainly about regulations and its impact with a focus on technological advancements in the crypto space.
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