This article talks about how popular cryptocurrency tools have been turned into useful weapons.
Israel now has to deal with a new threat in its fight against Iran-backed terrorism groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. As it turned out, the Tron network, which is growing quickly, is a big part of this. Bitcoin is the service's main rival, but this one is faster and cheaper. It has already surpassed Bitcoin as a way for people connected to terrorist groups in Israel, the US, and other countries to send and receive cryptocurrency.
According to a new report from Reuters and interviews with seven experts in financial crime and blockchain research, Israeli security services have been seizing a lot more Tron wallets since 2021, but fewer Bitcoin wallets.
Mriganka Pattnaik, CEO of the New York-based blockchain analysis company Merkle Science, says that terrorist groups are becoming more interested in Tron because it is stable, fast, and doesn't charge fees.
From July 2021 to October 2023, Israel's National Bureau of Counter-Terrorism Financing (NBCTF) froze 143 Tron wallets that were linked to a "terrorist organization" or used for "serious terrorist crimes."
Hayward Wong, a representative of the Tron platform based in the British Virgin Islands, said that any technology could be used for bad things. He used the example of US dollars being used to move money to show this point. Wong made it clear that Tron doesn't control how its technology is used and has nothing to do with groups that Israel considers to be enemies.
According to experts, the fact that law enforcement agencies got better at monitoring Bitcoin transactions is what caused the speed with which illegal groups moved from Bitcoin to Tron. Shlomit Wagman, who used to be in charge of Israel's watchdog on money laundering, says that Tron is a big "blind spot" in the fight against funding for terrorism.
At the same time, Tron has become the most popular blockchain platform for Tether trades. The largest "stablecoin" with reserve backing is tether, and its objective is to have a 1:1 value to the dollar. Tether officials, on the other hand, said that they work closely with law enforcement and regularly check for and freeze tokens that are being used for questionable things.
It's not clear if global officials will be able to come up with good ways to keep people from using Tron and other similar cryptocurrencies. In spite of this, it is already clear that this way of sending money could become even more popular for illegal reasons than Bitcoin.
The investigation shows how hard it is to stop terrorists from getting money in this age of cryptocurrencies and makes us think about the role and duty of tech platforms in this process.