Chainalysis says crypto usage for terror financing is ‘tiny fraction’ of overall volume

Stop scaring users with your bad KYC flows

A recent report by Chainalysis has cast doubt on sensationalized claims regarding the use of cryptocurrency by terrorist organizations for financing.

In the wake of a recent terrorist attack by Hamas in Israel, the report aims to correct misconceptions surrounding the role of digital currencies in funding terrorism.

Dispelling misconceptions

Chainalysis, a leading authority in blockchain analysis, acknowledges that some terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, utilize cryptocurrency for raising, storing, and transferring funds.

However, the report emphasizes that this constitutes only a tiny fraction of the overall cryptocurrency transaction volume, a small proportion of the illicit activities involving digital currencies.

The report counters overblown metrics and flawed analyses regarding terrorist organizations’ use of cryptocurrency, underlining that traditional fiat-based methods — such as financial institutions, hawalas, and shell companies — remain the primary financing channels for these groups.

Role of service providers

One of the key takeaways from the report is the inherent transparency of blockchain technology, which makes cryptocurrency transactions traceable from beginning to end.

This transparency allows government agencies and private sector organizations equipped with blockchain analysis tools to collaborate effectively in identifying and disrupting the flow of funds — which is highly challenging with traditional value transfer methods.

The report also delved into the role of service providers in facilitating the movement of terrorism-related funds.

According to the report, investigative efforts often need to focus on service providers, such as money services businesses, which can process significant volumes of funds. Chainalysis found that these suspected service providers may resemble over-the-counter (OTC) brokers or street-level money businesses like hawala.


To illustrate the complexity, the report cited an example where a wallet affiliated with terror financing had at least 20 suspected service providers as counterparties. These providers received varying sums of cryptocurrency from all their counterparties, ranging from $8.4 million to $1.1 billion.

Further investigation of one of these counterparties revealed a significant amount of activity, with over 1,300 deposits and 1,200 withdrawals in 7.5 months. Approximately $450,000 worth of funds from the known terror-affiliated wallet were transferred through this address.

The report suggests that this address likely represents a service provider facilitating terror financing activity knowingly or unknowingly.

Commingling of funds

However, the report also cautioned against jumping to conclusions. While large sums of cryptocurrency may appear to be raised for terror financing, a substantial portion of these funds could be unrelated to terrorism.

Chainalysis warned against including all transaction activity conducted by these service providers in estimates related to terrorism financing, as it may not be directly tied to such activities.

The report also highlighted the intricacies of tracing funds through service providers, where cryptocurrencies can be pooled and co-mingled with other users’ funds.

This makes it challenging to continue tracking funds once they have been deposited with a service provider, as only the service provider has access to information about specific customer transactions.

Chainalysis acknowledged the challenges in providing precise estimates for funds going directly to terrorist organizations, particularly in the absence of validated information by law enforcement.

Coinbase echoes sentiment

Coinbase has similarly argued that the majority of terrorist funding still relies on traditional cash rather than cryptocurrencies.

The exchange released a statement in response to concerns that crypto is being used for illicit purposes, particularly in the wake of reports about Hamas using crypto for financing. Coinbase emphasized that blockchain technology’s transparency makes tracking crypto transactions easier compared to cash payments.

The exchange also called for clear regulations to ensure the crypto industry’s compliance in the U.S. and other regulated jurisdictions, pointing out that reports of terrorist funding via digital assets often involve offshore entities not subject to U.S. laws.

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