Bitrace, a leading blockchain analytics firm, has unveiled data highlighting the scale of iillegal cryptocurrency activities in Southeast Asia. The insights challenge prevailing media narratives, offering a more detailed perspective on the region’s crypto landscape.
Cryptocurrencies, celebrated for their anonymity, decentralization, and borderless capabilities, have found favor among criminal groups in Southeast Asia. Their involvement spans a range of activities, from online gambling and fraud to money laundering. These unique attributes of digital currencies have made illicit operations more covered, enabling the rapid movement of unlawful funds.
Tether (USDT), a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar, stands out as the primary currency in these illegal undertakings. Bitrace’s findings indicate that in 2022, a staggering 115 billion USDT was implicated in illegal and gambling activities under their purview.
Diving deeper into the flow of this vast sum, 371.6 billion USDT was channeled into online gambling, 697.8 billion USDT was earmarked for money laundering, and a relatively smaller figure, less than 4.6 billion USDT, was associated with fraudulent schemes.
The ramifications of this illicit USDT flow extend to various trading platforms. In 2022 alone, trading platform accounts saw an influx of over 14.6 billion USDT from these activities. While major platforms inadvertently process a significant chunk of these transactions, there’s a discernible preference among Southeast Asian illegal crypto operators and gamblers, mainly Chinese, for certain exchanges.
Yet, amidst these challenges, the transparent nature of blockchain ledgers emerges as a beacon. Bitrace’s team, equipped with an extensive array of address labels and open-source intelligence, can effectively trace funds tied to illegal crypto activities.
In conclusion, as cryptocurrencies continue to be scrutinized for their ties to illicit operations, it’s imperative to crack down on illegal use of cryptos and stablecoins, especially USDT.
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