For years, the cryptocurrency economy has been rife with black market sales, theft, ransomware, and money laundering—despite the strange fact that in that economy, practically every transaction is written into a blockchain’s permanent, unchangeable ledger. But new evidence suggests that years of advancements in blockchain tracing and crackdowns on that illicit underworld may be having an effect—if not reducing the overall volume of crime, then at least cutting down on the number of laundering outlets, leaving the crypto black market with fewer options to cash out its proceeds than it’s had in a decade.
In a portion of its annual crime report focused on money laundering that was published today, cryptocurrency-tracing firm Chainalysis points to a new consolidation in crypto criminal cash-out services over the past year. It counted just 915 of those services used in 2022, the fewest it’s seen since 2012 and the latest sign of a steady drop-off in the number of those services since 2018. Chainalysis says an even smaller number of exchanges now enable the money-laundering trade of cryptocurrency for actual dollars, euros, and yen: It found that just five cryptocurrency exchanges now handle nearly 68 percent of all black market cash-outs.