Real-World Cryptocurrency Impact and Potential

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Real-World Cryptocurrency Impact

Key Takeaways

  • Cryptocurrencies have disruptive nature that has gradually but surely begun to challenge the existing financial system.
  • Some observers are concerned that bitcoin transactions' pseudonymous and decentralized structure might be used by criminals to conceal their financial operations from authorities.
  • Cryptocurrencies users might utilize a pseudonymous, decentralized platform to hide revenue from tax authorities.


In this report, we have provided insights into the current positive and negative impacts of cryptocurrency.

Current Real-World Impact of Cryptocurrency


1. Potential Economic Efficiency

  • According to Kim T, author of On the Transaction Cost of Bitcoin. Finance Research Letters, "is due to its relatively low foreign-exchange transaction cost, as well as its independence from monetary authorities, governments, and third-party financial intermediaries." Glaser, F. Zimmermann, co-author of Bitcoin — asset or currency? Revealing users’ hidden intentions, believes that less-informed "bitcoin users are primarily interested in bitcoin as an alternative investment vehicle, rather than an alternative transaction system."

2. Complement or Substitute to Established Financial Systems


1. Money Laundering

  • Bitcoin, for example, was the money used on Silk Road, an online illicit drug marketplace. Between January 2011 and October 2013, when the authorities shut down the website and arrested the people behind it, this marketplace and Bitcoin escrow service enabled over 100,000 illicit narcotics purchases.

2. Tax Evasion

  • Individuals might utilize a pseudonymous, decentralized platform to hide revenue from tax authorities, similar to how money laundering is done.
  • By November 2016, the IRS had "begun to suspect that bitcoin earnings were being under reported, with just 800 to 900 tax returns declaring such gains between 2013 and 2015.
  • Even though cryptocurrency exchanges were not required to report transaction information to the IRS at the time, the IRS filed a lawsuit against Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, to compel it to turn over customer data so that the IRS could calculate "the amounts taxpayers owed."
  • Coinbase fought the disclosure of the information until a judge ruled against it in November 2017. To comply with the ruling, Coinbase alerted 13,000 clients that information in their accounts will be turned over.

Research Strategy

We have leveraged insights provided by the most reliable public media sources, and from expert opinions and consultancies such as Forbes, Springer. Link, Congretional Research Service and others to provide insights into the current positive and negative real-world impacts of cryptocurrency.

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Real-World Cryptocurrency Potential


In this report, we have provided insights into the potential positive and negative impacts of cryptocurrency.


Reduce Developmental Barriers

  • The World Bank indicates that poverty remains high across many countries in the world. The benefits of economic growth are shared unevenly in many countries/regions.
  • Poverty is exacerbated in these areas by factors such as limited access to financial services and high inflation rates. Corrupt government institutions and low faith in financial systems also contribute to the high poverty levels in many locations. These factors limit economic development.
  • Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin can be used to address issues such as low faith in financial systems and also increase access to financial services.
  • Cryptocurrencies can increase financial inclusivity and enhance the traceability of funds. According to a World Bank report, "the potential for reduction in transaction fees through the decentralized nature of the blockchain would allow the poor to have access to retail banking services."

Replace Fiat Currency

  • A recent survey of cryptocurrency experts indicates that many believe that bitcoin will replace fiat currency by 2050.
  • According to the survey, 54% of the experts believe bitcoin will overtake global finance by 2050, "29% think it will happen as soon as 2035 and an additional 20% by 2040."
  • According to Thibaud Marechal, developer of a bitcoin custody provider, fiat currency is "plagued with inflation and currency debasement" and bitcoin will "drastically shift the world toward sustained deflation."


Environmental Impact

  • Tim Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web (WWW) inventor, has described bitcoin mining as “one of the most fundamentally pointless ways of using energy.”
  • Bitcoins do not exist as actual objects, but they are mined through a process that includes solving complicated mathematical problems with powerful computers.
  • A Sylvanian's article estimates bitcoin's energy consumption per year to be the same as New Zealand's annual energy consumption.
  • According to the Sylvanian's article, "it is estimated that in 30 years bitcoin could alone increase global temperatures 2 degrees Celsius."
  • Bitcoin transactions are estimated to consume 980 kWh of energy. According to the United Nations, this energy can power a Canadian home for 3 weeks.

Exploitation by Criminals

  • According to CNBC, "criminals have turned to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin for their ease of sending online instantly."
  • Funds send through cryptocurrencies can be tracked but senders remain anonymous. These features "have caught the attention of regulators who fear crypto’s potential role in money laundering and terrorist financing."
  • Lack of regulation and oversight also leaves cryptocurrencies open to exploitation by criminals.
  • According to a study by the University of Sydney, "approximately one-quarter of all users (25%) and close to one-half of bitcoin transactions (44%) are associated with illegal activity."

Research Strategy

For this research on Real-World Cryptocurrency Potential, we leveraged the most reputable sources of information that were available in the public domain, including reports from the World Bank and the United Nations.

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