The Fact, the Fiction and the Context

It’s the clichéd rhetoric of choice for anyone seeking to discredit crypto. An ace in the hole for any argument against its proliferation. The go-to thesis for those who know very little about cryptocurrency but wish to appear otherwise. 

The idea that cryptocurrencies are solely utilized within illicit activities has become both a tool for mass media to disparage the industry and, for many, a reason to steer well clear. But besides being a tired stereotype, it may also be true.

That’s one of the prevailing problems with stereotypes: While many derive from truth, they often represent an oversimplified — and sometimes twisted — version of it. It is true, for instance, that cryptocurrencies are used to facilitate criminal activities. 

However, it is also true that any form of value will be used for illegal purposes, whether through crypto or fiat. That being said, digital coins account for just a fraction of the crimes funded with cash — which is also an undeniably more popular means of exchange.

Nevertheless, a lack of regulation and relative anonymity has granted cryptocurrencies infamy along with an air of immorality. In fact, several reports on cryptocurrency’s penchant for illegality have been published in the past two weeks alone. 

XRP’s criminal undertow

On Nov. 20, cryptocurrency forensics and analysis firm Elliptic published an analysis on XRP transactions. Within their findings, the firm disclosed that $400 million worth of XRP had been used for “illicit activity.” This represents just 0.2% of total transactions, something which Elliptic suggests makes the vast majority of activity “legitimate.” Still, $400 million is no insignificant number. This is especially true for XRP, which was designed with institutional and commercial financial systems in mind.

Coincidentally, Elliptic’s reasoning behind exposing XRP’s clandestine transactions was to warn institutional clients before any potential entanglement. Dr. Tom Robinson,…

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