Coins: 14,317
Exchanges: 1,096
Market Cap: $2.548T 0.1%
24h Vol: $54.277B
Gas: 4 GWEI
Go Ad-free
Coverage
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Winklevoss Twins: Bitcoin is a Haven for Really Stupid Criminals

Kyle Torpey -

During a recent interview with Freemit CEO John Biggs at SXSW Interactive 2016, the Winklevoss Twins were asked about the use of bitcoin by criminals. While many in the general public still see bitcoin as some sort of anonymous digital currency that can be used for money laundering, the reality is that every on-chain transaction is posted on the public ledger. For this reason, the Winklevoss Twins do not think it would be wise for anyone to use bitcoin for illicit activity.

Bitcoin Transactions are Public Forever

Tyler Winklevoss was rather blunt when asked whether or not bitcoin may be useful for criminals. He stated, “I think [Bitcoin] is a haven for really stupid criminals because the blockchain is an immutable record for the rest of time.”

The Gemini co-founder then explained his point in further detail:

“If I send you a bitcoin, the whole world sees that movement. They may not know the identities, but at some point, you cash that bitcoin into the real world for whatever illicit thing, someone catches you, and they can trace the trail of breadcrumbs back to you and the person you bought [from].”

To Tyler Winklevoss’s point, some regulators have touted blockchain technology’s ability to improve transparency in the traditional financial system. This increase in transparency occurs because, in a blockchain-powered world, the ledger of all transactions is distributed to multiple parties rather than being held by a single bank or financial institution.

Tyler Winklevoss also compared using Bitcoin for drug-related payments to using Venmo to pay a drug dealer. He added, “It’s a really stupid idea.”

The Drug Testing Analogy

Cameron Winklevoss also chimed in on the topic of criminal use cases for Bitcoin. The other co-founder of Gemini used an analogy of drug testing at the Olympics to make his point. First, he talked about how samples taken at the Olympics for drug testing purposes are held for ten years. He explained, “They know that the drugging technology is far ahead of the testing technology. The testing will always lag by some period of time.”

Cameron Winklevoss then applied this same line of thinking to Bitcoin. He stated:

“Imagine holding a sample forever . . . It’s just a really bad place to [engage in illicit trade], and people are figuring that out.”

Criminals are Better Off with Cash

While the potential use of bitcoin by criminals has been seen as a negative aspect of the digital currency in the past, Tyler Winklevoss pointed out that cash is a much better option for anyone who wishes to conduct anonymous trade. He noted:

“Cash is truly anonymous. If I give you cash, no one sees that happen unless there’s a video camera or something . . . It’s untraceable. There is no ledger record.”

Tyler Winklevoss also hinted that bitcoin’s market cap would be much higher if a large number of criminals were involved with the digital currency. He stated:

“If criminals were in bitcoin, I think the price and the market cap would be a lot different. It would be a lot bigger, and I really don’t think [criminals are involved].”

Privacy Improvements on the Way

While it’s true that the Bitcoin blockchain is mostly transparent right now, it’s important to note that privacy-related improvements are currently in the works. JoinMarket is essentially a market for mixing bitcoin transactions. Holders of bitcoin can earn a return on their savings -- in a manner similar to a traditional savings account at a bank -- for allowing other users to mix their outputs together.

Confidential Transactions is another privacy-enhancing feature that could soon be found on the Bitcoin blockchain. This privacy improvement is currently under development by Blockstream, and it allows users to hide the amounts associated with their bitcoin transactions.

The combination of JoinMarket with Confidential Transactions could be one of the first major steps forward in obscuring all of the publicly available data that is currently found on the blockchain.

CoinGecko's Content Editorial Guidelines
CoinGecko’s content aims to demystify the crypto industry. While certain posts you see may be sponsored, we strive to uphold the highest standards of editorial quality and integrity, and do not publish any content that has not been vetted by our editors.
Learn more
Want to be the first to know about upcoming airdrops?
Subscribe to the CoinGecko Daily Newsletter!
Join 600,000+ crypto enthusiasts, traders, and degens in getting the latest crypto news, articles, videos, and reports by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.
Tell us how much you like this article!
Kyle Torpey
Kyle Torpey
Kyle is a freelance writer who has been interested in bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured on Business Insider, VICE Motherboard, Let's Talk Bitcoin, RT's Keiser Report, and many other media outlets. Follow the author on Twitter @kyletorpey

More Articles

Select Currency
Suggested Currencies
USD
US Dollar
IDR
Indonesian Rupiah
TWD
New Taiwan Dollar
EUR
Euro
KRW
South Korean Won
JPY
Japanese Yen
RUB
Russian Ruble
CNY
Chinese Yuan
Fiat Currencies
AED
United Arab Emirates Dirham
ARS
Argentine Peso
AUD
Australian Dollar
BDT
Bangladeshi Taka
BHD
Bahraini Dinar
BMD
Bermudian Dollar
BRL
Brazil Real
CAD
Canadian Dollar
CHF
Swiss Franc
CLP
Chilean Peso
CZK
Czech Koruna
DKK
Danish Krone
GBP
British Pound Sterling
GEL
Georgian Lari
HKD
Hong Kong Dollar
HUF
Hungarian Forint
ILS
Israeli New Shekel
INR
Indian Rupee
KWD
Kuwaiti Dinar
LKR
Sri Lankan Rupee
MMK
Burmese Kyat
MXN
Mexican Peso
MYR
Malaysian Ringgit
NGN
Nigerian Naira
NOK
Norwegian Krone
NZD
New Zealand Dollar
PHP
Philippine Peso
PKR
Pakistani Rupee
PLN
Polish Zloty
SAR
Saudi Riyal
SEK
Swedish Krona
SGD
Singapore Dollar
THB
Thai Baht
TRY
Turkish Lira
UAH
Ukrainian hryvnia
VEF
Venezuelan bolívar fuerte
VND
Vietnamese đồng
ZAR
South African Rand
XDR
IMF Special Drawing Rights
Cryptocurrencies
BTC
Bitcoin
ETH
Ether
LTC
Litecoin
BCH
Bitcoin Cash
BNB
Binance Coin
EOS
EOS
XRP
XRP
XLM
Lumens
LINK
Chainlink
DOT
Polkadot
YFI
Yearn.finance
Bitcoin Units
BITS
Bits
SATS
Satoshi
Commodities
XAG
Silver - Troy Ounce
XAU
Gold - Troy Ounce
Select Language
Popular Languages
EN
English
RU
Русский
DE
Deutsch
PL
język polski
ES
Español
VI
Tiếng việt
FR
Français
PT
Português
All Languages
AR
العربية
BG
български
CS
čeština
DA
dansk
EL
Ελληνικά
FI
suomen kieli
HE
עִבְרִית
HI
हिंदी
HR
hrvatski
HU
Magyar nyelv
ID
Bahasa Indonesia
IT
Italiano
JA
日本語
KO
한국어
LT
lietuvių kalba
NL
Nederlands
NO
norsk
RO
Limba română
SK
slovenský jazyk
SL
slovenski jezik
SV
Svenska
TH
ภาษาไทย
TR
Türkçe
UK
украї́нська мо́ва
ZH
简体中文
ZH-TW
繁體中文
Login to track your favorite coin easily 🚀
By continuing, you agree to CoinGecko Terms of Service and acknowledge you’ve read our Privacy Policy
or
Forgot your password?
Didn't receive confirmation instructions?
Resend confirmation instructions
IT'S FREE! Track your favorite coin easily with CoinGecko 🚀
By continuing, you agree to CoinGecko Terms of Service and acknowledge you’ve read our Privacy Policy
or
Password must contain at least 8 characters including 1 uppercase letter, 1 lowercase letter, 1 number, and 1 special character
Didn't receive confirmation instructions?
Resend confirmation instructions
Forgot your password?
You will receive an email with instructions on how to reset your password in a few minutes.
Resend confirmation instructions
You will receive an email with instructions for how to confirm your email address in a few minutes.
Get the CoinGecko app.
Scan this QR code to download the app now App QR Code Or check it out in the app stores
coingecko
Continue in app
Track prices in real-time
Open App