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Clifford Chance

Briefings

Busting Bitcoin's anonymity - the implications for financial institutions

13 September 2019

A deliberate design feature of Bitcoin is that it enables users to buy or sell anything without revealing their identity. Yet, paradoxically, all Bitcoin transactions are stored publicly and permanently on blockchain. Now, as seen in recent cases, enterprising US prosecutors and private plaintiffs’ lawyers are using software called blockchain explorer to crack Bitcoin’s anonymity. The US Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) also appears to suggest that financial institutions and crypto businesses should consider how explorer software could help them meet their own anti-money laundering (AML) and sanctions obligations.

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