Bitcoin: Building A Better World, Block By Block

July 28, 2016

The following is a guest blog post published in collaboration with Biometrica, a security services firm focused on linking the physical to the digital.

Contrary to what people think, bitcoin isn’t made for the bad guys. It’s actually the perfect tool for regulators, investigators, banks and NBFIs like casinos that want an absolute audit trail

The world of financial surveillance is moving into plain sight. As we continue to go down that path of the physical to the digital and the digital to the physical, digital stores of value, whether currency or other assets, will become easier to track and analyze. And no, this does not mean this is a validation of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. Ironically, perhaps, for Orwellian supporters, it’s quite the contrary, and is more of a refutation of that all-seeing authoritarian state. Here’s why.

“Follow the money” is and always has been the maxim for investigators, whether in journalism, forensic accounting, counterterrorism or anti-money laundering (AML). Of that last, whether you’re a once green analyst, or a leading consultant in the field of AML, that guiding principle stays strong and true, as does one more fact: The bad guys will continue to refine their craft, and push the boundaries of creativity to hide the source(s) of their ill-gotten gains, and obscure any physical or audit trail.

However, with time, these trails, obscured by money-launderers and other criminals, will no longer be fragmented pieces of data residing on the centralized, siloed servers of financial institutions and non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs). These trails of disconnected digital breadcrumbs, often across multiple categories of NBFIs like money transmitters and casinos, will instead become immutable travel logs on a large map for all to see. In time, investigators will be able to quickly follow the money and document with certainty the source(s) of funds and actors involved.

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