The crypto community scorned a Financial Times (FT) article for its lack of balance.
Crime is a feature
Jemima Kelly’s piece “Using crypto for crime is not a bug — it’s an industry feature” argued that speculation and criminality are the main uses for cryptocurrency.
The author argues that since cryptocurrency operates “outside the system,” it enables criminal and illicit activities to take place undetected by authorities — leading her to conclude that crime is an inherent feature of crypto.
When challenged on technology being neutral, Kelly said:
“But this simply isn’t true: crypto was designed as a censorship-resistant payment mechanism that operates outside the traditional financial system and beyond the remit of regulators.”
In support of her argument, Kelly mentioned the CFTC’s enforcement action against Binance, saying the exchange knowingly laundered criminal proceeds with approval from its Chief Compliance Officer.
Also, despite 2022 being marked by collapsing prices and high-profile bankruptcies, data from Chainalysis revealed that illicit crypto transactions increased by 11% from the previous year to reach $20 billion — underscoring the prevalence of criminal activity within the sector.
Crypto Redditors call out the hypocrisy
In response to Kelly’s article, comments in a Reddit post highlighted the lack of balance, with Redditors noting the article conveniently overlooked the role of fiat money in criminal activity.
The most upvoted comment mentioned Credit Suisse being embroiled in money laundering scandals — adding that blockchain “at least” allows an audit trail for a degree of accountability, unlike cash.
“Will we discuss how Credit Suisse washed all the African warlord money or the drug cartels are using the US banking system for decades, too?
At least you can track it all with crypto!”
Similarly, another Redditor mentioned that criminals prefer using the banking system as it accommodates “concealed record keeping.”
According to the 2022 National Money Laundering Risk Assessment report by the U.S. Treasury, the cryptocurrency market has experienced substantial growth since 2018. Despite this, the report found that using virtual assets to launder money is significantly lower than that of fiat money — indicating criminals still prefer the latter for illicit activities.
“the use of virtual assets for money laundering remains far below that of fiat currency and more traditional methods”
Chainalysis reported that the total value received by illicit addresses came to $20.6 billion in 2022, made up mostly of sanctioned addresses. While this remains the highest on record since 2017, illicit transactions for 2022 still represented just 0.24% of all cryptocurrency transactions.
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