Crypto crime was the highest — and lowest — ever in 2021: Chainalysis
January 6, 2022, 11:41AM EST
1 min read
New data from the blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis shows the highs and lows of crime-related cryptocurrency transactions across 2021.
The volume of crime-related crypto transactions hit a record high at $14 billion in 2021, up 79% since 2020. But since the number of cryptocurrency transactions grew 567% that same year, crime-related activity comprised 0.15% of all cryptocurrency transactions — the lowest that rate has been since 2017.
Chainalysis concludes that the growth rate for legitimate crypto transactions far exceeds crime-related ones, chafing against the persisting belief that cryptocurrency is primarily used for criminal activity.
Crypto scams and funds stolen in decentralized finance were the biggest areas of crypto-related crime in 2021. Victims lost $7.8 billion worth of crypto due to scams – a yearly increase of 82% in 2021. Of the $3.2 billion worth of crypto stolen that same year 72% of it came from decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, according to Chainalysis.
The firm notes that its data for crypto-related crime is likely to increase as it retroactively identifies illicit transactions.
As cryptocurrencies become increasingly mainstream, regulators, the media and policymakers are paying more attention to the financial crime risks associated with them. But what are the biggest compliance challenges crypto firms face, and what does a best practice AML program look like?
Ethereum had a breakout year in 2021. It’s native asset, ETH’s, market capitalization surpassed $500 billion for the first time. Its network facilitated upwards of $7 trillion value transfer. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) emerged as another “killer application” that have put its technology on the global stage and caught the attention of the masses.