Bitcoin, thrust into the international spotlight this week by Twitter hackers trying to defraud people of their bitcoin, is hard to track but by no means impossible.
Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and blockchain analytics companies are able to forensically examine crypto transactions and are often able to pinpoint exactly who made the transaction, where and when.
Now, a top Pentagon investigative unit is looking for information about hiring a crypto analytics service to “quickly detect criminal and suspicious cryptocurrency transactions” around the world.
The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division Command (USACIDC) is looking to licence an application to help them track and trace illicit cryptocurrency transactions, according to a statement of work published on July 10. Unlike a more formal request for proposal, the posting is part of an earlier research phase called a request for information.
“The contractor must provide worldwide web-based access to a reliable cryptocurrency investigation service,” the document read, giving a deadline of July 20 for companies to submit the information.
“The web based application must provide the capability to assist law enforcement identify and stop actors who are using cryptocurrencies for illicit activity such as fraud, extortion, and money laundering. Application must enables users to conduct in-depth investigation into the source of cryptocurrency transactions and provides multi-currency analysis from bitcoin to other top cryptocurrencies.”
In addition, the application must “help spot suspicious transaction patterns and interactions with other entities,” and “a link analysis tool to facilitate the analysis of data.”
The request for work comes after the United States Army Contracting Command of New Jersey published a pre-solicitation notice seeking a similar web application to help law enforcement agencies to track and identify people using cryptocurrencies for illegal purposes in July last year.
Companies such as New York-based Chainalysis and London-based Elliptic, which recently won a contract with the IRS, have carved out a niche providing blockchain data and analysis to government agencies, bitcoin and crypto exchanges, and financial institutions.
Coinbase, the largest U.S. bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange, has recently made headlines by licencing its blockchain tracing software to the U.S. government. The move has sparked controversy, with critics claiming the service causes a conflict of interest for the popular exchange.
Coinbase said in an email that it was aware of the USACIDC request for work but had yet to make a decision on whether it will bid.
“We’ll always look for ways to work with agencies and law enforcement to fight illegal activity,” a Coinbase spokesperson said.