As blockchain technology celebrates its tenth year, it is clear the ecosystem has evolved significantly. Nefarious activity has long tarnished the sector, from those who favored bitcoin’s anonymity in illicit online marketplaces through to high-profile thefts from exchanges. What we began to see in recent years, however, is a new, pragmatic approach to these issues, one which reveals a more mature environment ready to engage with malicious actors as a matter of course.
There is a sentiment that 2018 was an underwhelming year for the market but it was, in many ways, also the most dramatic. Almost $1.7 billion was stolen through exchange hacks and scams alone. These figures, released by analytics firm CipherTrace, show a staggering increase from 2017 – exchange thefts increased by 300%, while there was an astounding 1,200% rise in exit scams and other ICO shams.
Despite an overwhelming uptake of KYC and AML procedures over recent years, it has clearly had little effect on curbing the appetite of thieves and scammers. This has led to the creation of analytics tools, such as Crystal, which are able to trace misappropriated funds and help take measures against the users of the wallet.
While the victims of these criminals will likely not agree, there has been a positive side to this increased threat. Not only does it reinforce the message that assets be stored locally, as opposed to an exchange, and that potential investors do their due diligence before investing in an ICO which makes unrealistic promises, but it has accelerated the progress of services which act to prevent, discourage and hold accountable those who would seek to continue pursuing criminal activity in this sector.
As we see this stride towards a self-managed ecosystem that develops its own tools for reactive security, it is most clearly shown in the large-scale public events where experts gather to discuss the more pressing issues of the moment. Blockshow, among the largest of such conferences, was quick to enlist Crystal to provide its risk-assessment technology for all attendees, marking a new stage in efforts to purge the blockchain ecosystem of would-be criminals.
At its 2018 Asia conference, Blockshow supplied every attendee with an innovative Blockchain analysis tool, Crystal. As part of a move to nurture greater security and accountability in the blockchain sphere, Crystal, developed by Blockfury, provides risk-scoring of cryptocurrency wallet addresses, allowing vendors and investors alike to easily identify an individual or company closely associated with malicious activity such as exchange hacking or exit scams.
In January, a major theft from Cryptopia exchange saw a demonstration of new security countermeasures unfold as Binance froze a portion of the stolen funds before they could be sold off. Introducing new techniques for tracking criminal activity promises a much more resilient and attractive environment for investors. One aspect where Crystal shows real promise, however, is in face-to-face interactions.
One of the most effective ways to connect with potential investors is to draw them in for face-to-face discussions and conferences like Blockshow offer the perfect environment to do so, attracting all kinds of funds on the lookout for the next big thing. Every fifth company to showcase their product to Blockshow walks away with a deal, bringing a much-needed sense of financial security in these uncertain times.
These interactions between companies and investors rely on many things, but trust is arguably the most important. With over a billion dollars raised so far, conferences play a major part in fundraising strategies. Introducing a risk assessment to these meetings brings a verifiable means to quickly quantify the trustworthiness of the individual or group, and could serve as a catalyst to the process.
As the market begins to stabilize once more, the conferences of 2019 are anticipated to offer a host of new, exciting ventures. Pre-registration for Blockshow Asia 2019 is currently open and an announcement about its latest initiative will be unveiled on March 7.