Is Bitcoin really for criminals? A dark perception looms over the world’s greatest cryptocurrency. Its reputation is closely tethered to dark web markets. Drugs, weapons, livestock, you name it. All of it can be purchased from these isolated web platforms. The most used form of payment: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
This is all common knowledge, of course. It is why governments and regulators see cryptocurrencies as shady little commodities. Very little links users to their Bitcoin and how they are exchanged. These digital coins are ideal for unlawful purchases, tax evasion and other forms of money laundering, or so the narrative goes.
However, there is a lot of evidence to counter that perception. During its “dodgiest” days, a single Bitcoin went for far less than the current growing price. Back then things were easier to comprehend too. The now-soaring Ethereum was not in existence, the legality of token exchanges was not under fire, and Bitcoin was yet to gain the recognition it has today.
Notorious dark web markets like the Silk Road made Bitcoin the “criminal’s currency”. Of course, the market platform can’t take all the bad credit, but the controversy around its crackdown certainly highlighted that perception. As Silk Road grew in popularity, so did the use of Bitcoin. The two became so closely associated that, for authorities, putting an end to the Silk Road market meant killing Bitcoin as well.
The crackdown came in October 2013. Ross Ulbricht, the accused and convicted mastermind behind the dark market was arrested that month. The government swore to go after Bitcoin and its users too. That meant people who used the currency were criminally-inclined, businesses that accepted it would be placed on a money laundering blacklist, and anyone who used it in light of this was certainly up to no good.
The digital coin moved hand-in-hand with numerous dark markets. According to a FinTech lawyer, Marco Santori, “Bitcoin was the lifeblood of the Silk Road.” Entire industries which were warming up to the coin had to shy away or risk being ostracized. Bitcoin became as good as contraband, or so news outlets had people believe.
Indeed, news outlets helped fuel the negativity surrounding Bitcoin. The media ran away with widespread speculation about lowered transaction volumes. In time, everyone anticipated the impending worthlessness of the currency. Besides, Bitcoin was criminals’ money, the perception went, and the biggest use for this currency had just been shut down. So, what was the coin good for now?
People could only guess at the time. There was very little official data about this unregulated, barely legal coin or the true intent of its users. The anonymous nature of the coin only made things less clear. How much of Bitcoin was tied to the Silk Road and other dark web markets? Nobody knew for sure. No doubt the government and everyone else assumed it was a lot.
“We were wrong,” Santori writes. “When we finally looked back on the numbers, volume didn’t drop. It soared.” The lawyer admits that the price of Bitcoin plummeted in the wake of the crackdown. However, no one anticipated the rise that would come afterwards. The currency recovered almost immediately and spiked far beyond the values held under its Silk Road days. “It was astounding,” Santori asserted.
The new Bitcoin narrative
The “criminals’ currency” narrative quickly fell away at that point. Bitcoin was a investment asset with a pure heart. Now that it was free from the weight its illicit connotations, the coin could finally thrive in the light. Developing regions saw massive spikes in transaction volumes as well. The currency was improving lives, a means to surpass inflation and the financial mismanagement that is inherent of most governments.
In truth, the Silk Road highlighted the criminal aspect of cryptocurrencies. This is an undying part of blockchain assets and the reason why governments wish to impose restrictions on their use. Numerous other dark markets irrupted in the wake of the Silk Road shutdown. Along with them, other crypto coins came to the fore. While there is little doubt that these additional currencies are used for no good, they have soared in value just like Bitcoin, making then ideal investment assets.
Cryptocurrency values soar
There are other cryto coins seeing more trade volumes. Bitcoin certainly isn’t alone in the crypto surge. Consider Ethereum. This digital coin was widely thought to be an undervalued currency. Some project it to outdo Bitcoin in terms of value. Ethereum rose beyond 300 percent during the same period it touched its March 2017 peak. Two months ago, Ethereum went for around $55 a piece. April saw it float around $75. Now, in May, the currency has touched heights of $100.
Ethereum stands as a dark market favorite beside Bitcoin. It has a lot more usage now, even among clear-web pages.
A glance at values:
- A single coin went for $1,100 mid-February.
- May sees the currency, trading at values beyond $1,500.
- Analysts predict it will reach $2,000 before the year is out.