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Criminals use Bitcoin to move $72 billion per annum, research suggests

Almost half of all Bitcoin (BTC) transactions sent to date have been associated with illegal activity, a new report has revealed.

Researchers at the University of Sydney have uncovered that a quarter of Bitcoin users have ties to criminal activity and that a little less than half of all Bitcoin transactions have been linked to illicit industries, like drug trafficking and hacking.

These customers are thought to conduct somewhere in the region of 36 million individual transactions per annum, with a total value of around $72 billion. They’re also predicted to hold around $8 billion worth of Bitcoin collectively.

It’s easy to see why the criminal underworld has been drawn to Bitcoin.

The virtual currency is untraceable, providing customers with a way to split money up and move it around, obscuring the breadcrumbs that be used to form a trail, before withdrawing it to a bank account in the shape of a traditional currency.

Related: Best Bitcoin alternatives

That’s led to South Korea, a hotbed for the trade of virtual currencies, drawing up legislation that will require financial institutions to record information about customers using Bitcoin – and other virtual currencies – to transfer funds.

Chatter surrounding the move has resulted in the value of Bitcoin dropping, but that’s only a drop in the water compared to what could happen should such a law be introduced, as criminals would rush to ditch the cryptocurrency.

Were you surprised to hear that less than half of all Bitcoin transactions have been linked to criminal activity? Let us know on Twitter @TrustedReviews.

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