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Illicit Crypto Activity Drops Ten-Fold in 2020!

Hi everyone,

While criminal activity in the crypto world dropped ten-fold in 2020, incoming US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen incorrectly asserted that the burgeoning sector is mainly used for illicit financing.

In reality, criminal behaviour is overwhelmingly apparent in traditional banking not in crypto, and such activity has been on the up since the 2008 financial crash.

Meanwhile, Ethereum briefly broke its 2017 all time high as it gears to follow in bitcoin’s footsteps. If history is a guide, there’s more where that came from.

Let’s dig in.

Criminal Cryptocurrency Activity Drops Ten-Fold in 2020

Following in the footsteps of her comrade at the ECB, soon-to-be US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that cryptocurrencies are ‘mainly used in illicit financing’.

This statement is unequivocally false.

In fact, a report from Chainalysis revealed precisely the opposite, finding that illicit activity fell to 0.034% or $10 billion in transaction volumes, compared to 2019 when criminal activity represented 2.1% of transactions (roughly $21.4 billion).

One reason for the decline is due to increased economic activity from 2019 to 2020. Still the overall crime-related economic activity is dropping, according to the firm.

Indeed, scams comprised much less of transacted crypto volumes in 2020 than in 2019 — a famous scam being the Chinese PlusToken Ponzi scheme that took over $2 billion from millions of unsuspecting victims.

Chainalysis revealed that 54% of crypto scams were made up of illicit activity followed by darknet markets, the second largest crime category accounting for $1.7 billion, up from $1.3 billion in 2019.

According to the report, the “big story” is ransomware, which has surged 311% from 2019, accruing illegally obtained funds of up to $350 million.

Long story short, Janet Yellen is not just wrong, but dead wrong when she says that cryptocurrencies are ‘mainly used in illicit financing’. And while criminal activity exists and should be mitigated — as with every old and new technology — it’s incredibly misleading to frame cryptocurrencies in this manner.

As such, Janet Yellen is either severely misinformed about cryptocurrencies, or is saying this in full knowledge that it could sway market participants.

Then again, neither Janet Yellen nor the ECB’s Christine Lagarde have control over bitcoin and cryptocurrencies like they do the Euro-Dollar system. Central bankers are not used to this situation, and will fight tooth and nail to rein in an evolving free-market.

Technically speaking

Bitcoin fails to sustain bullish market structure

In typical bitcoin fashion, bullish market structure was on the receiving end in the early trading hours of Wednesday morning (UTC+1).

Bitcoin fell below the 20-daily ema ($34,590) briefly and is holding slightly above it at the time of writing.

In doing so, the breached ascending triangle structure — typically a bullish continuation pattern — has opened the doors to lower targets.

The sell-off coincides with various reports and theories about USD Tether, as well as the incoming US Treasury secretary’s comments effectively deriding cryptocurrencies using fact-free rhetoric.

In moments like this, investors can find themselves editing triangle-structures on their graphs in order to make it fit the choppy price-action.

In my estimation, it’s better to emphasize horizontal support and resistance clusters in a choppy market with seemingly no intention of finding a directional bias.

Of course, as with all markets, nothing is ever crystal clear.

If profit taking and/or bearish sentiment snowballs, bulls will aim to defend the $30,000 psychological area as bears take profit.

On the flip-side, should price close above the 20-daily ema, then this might be another fake-out scenario that ends up in another major rally.

Levels to watch

  • $30,000 floor (psychological area)
  • $34,590 (20-daily ema) close
  • Downward sloping resistance
  • $22,536 (20-weekly ema)

Per the above chart, the breakdown from this bullish structure is by no means set in stone, in large part due to low volumes and even lower funding rates on derivatives platforms, as mentioned on the telegram channel.

ETH/BTC breaks out; can it close the week on a bullish note?

From peak to trough, ETH/BTC has gained nearly 70% this month as Ethereum bulls stepped in to take Ether above its all time highs to $1,438 — at least for a brief moment.

While the ETH/USD pair continues to trail bitcoin price-movements, there’s an unmistakeable push for ethereans to lead the crypto market.

In fact, ETH/BTC rallied 5% above its weekly resistance at 0.035 Satoshis, targeting the 0.04 Satoshi level. If sustained, this move could inform a changing market dynamic where ETH temporarily takes the reins.

ETH/BTC has been on a tear since the 3rd of January when it pumped 51% in 48-hours, and hasn’t looked back since.

The move above all-time highs is not dissimilar to when bitcoin broke it’s 2017-all-time high for a few moments, only to slide lower over the following days and weeks before turbo-charging to $42,000.

Is Ethereum following bitcoin’s trajectory to the letter? Perhaps. One thing’s for sure though: when an asset sets a new all time high, it’s almost invariably followed by even more all time highs.

The tricky part is to avoid getting liquidated on every 10% dip.

Bulls lead the way.

Catch you next time.

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Best regards,

Christopher Attard
Founder of Chris on Crypto
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Chris on Crypto

Chris on Crypto

Journalist-turned crypto-writer & analyst; forging the narrative, stacking sats.

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