Illicit use of cryptocurrencies (March 2021)

Foreword: METI Advisory wrote this report for SEBA Bank AG. Abstract: Two authoritative market intelligence reports on the illicit use of cryptocurrencies, released in February 2021 (by Chainalysis and CipherTrace), evidence a marked decrease in the phenomena during 2020 - compared to 2019 - but also new worrying trends in the areas of ransomware and Decentralised Finance (DeFi). Further regulatory action to combat the illicit use of cryptocurrencies is therefore expected. Progress in the implementation of existing regulatory Guidance and a further growth in overall cryptocurrencies transactions should lead to a further decline in the illicit use of cryptocurrencies in the coming years. Regulators have feared the illicit use of cryptocurrencies since bitcoin was born. Still in 2017 about one-quarter of global bitcoin users were involved in illicit activities, for a total transactional value of around USDbn 76. The authorities took concerted action in 2018 under the leadership of the G20. The resulting Guidance issued by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in June 2019 basically subjects virtual assets (VA) and their providers (VASP) to the same standard and procedure governing transactions in fiat currencies and their providers. Yet, as apparent from statements by US Treasury Secretary in February 2021, the illicit use of cryptocurrencies continues to worry regulators, who see it as growing.