With only two weeks left in 2016, bitcoin seems in a rush to “catch up.” For the longest time, analysts have predicted that bitcoin would reach $800 by the end of the year, and for the last few days, it seems like that prediction could become a reality. Currently trading at around $787, bitcoin is just $13 away from reaching such a stellar point.
But not everyone is celebrating. The U.S. government is still employing the idea that bitcoin is the most popular currency amongst criminals and terrorists, who likely use digital currency to fund their evil deeds.
Bitcoin-related crime is relatively low in the U.S., though representatives are concerned that eventually, terrorists will create a cryptocurrency so anonymous and so powerful it will block any possibility of discovering the identities of alleged culprits.
Joshua Baron, an academic cryptographer and mathematician for the Rand Corp., serves in a think tank working with the U.S. government. His mission? To discover if foes of the nation are working on such a currency. Presently, there is no evidence to suggest that anonymous money like this is in the works.
“We are looking at ways for the government to disrupt any new virtual currencies that might be designed and deployed by terrorists, non-state actors or insurgents for everyday use,” he explains.
Juan Zarate, a senior adviser at Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, has worked hard to tackle the issues of transparency in digital currencies, and has fought to prevent money-based crime in the crypto-arena. In 2003, he led a team of Treasury experts that worked to freeze the personal accounts of American enemies looking to “stir up trouble.” He says the model they’ve implemented has blocked major crimes from occurring, and the government doesn’t have much to worry about.
“We have made it very difficult for members of the Islamic State to raise or move money around the world these days,” he says. “Even Iran has a hard time finding safe havens.”
For now, Treasury officials will continue to monitor bitcoin and related monies and allow their evolution to take place, though they will keep an eye out for anything that appears out of the ordinary.