Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are innovative technologies that facilitate trust in distrusted systems. The technological ecosystem of cryptocurrency has experienced rapid growth since its inception in 2009, with all cryptocurrencies totalling a value of $590 billion in December 2017.
Criminals exploit cryptocurrency as a way to process private transactions that cannot be revoked. Alongside the growth of this ecosystem, criminal activities such as money laundering, tax evasion, fraud, theft and hacking have been increasing. Cryptocurrency can be used to transfer funds across borders and to disguise the ownership and possession of funds. Virtual currency is used as means of payment for darknet marketplaces.
Yet the potential danger of criminal use of cryptocurrency is limited, as regulation of crypto exchanges can prevent a lot of dangers and the level of anonymity of major currencies, like Bitcoin or Ethereum is limited.
Ante, L. (2018). Cryptocurrency, Blockchain and Crime. In McCarthy K. (Ed.), The Money Laundering Market: Regulating the criminal economy (pp. 171-198). Agenda Publishing. doi:10.2307/j.ctv5cg8z1.10