Cryptocurrency Exchange Einstein Aims to Combat Fentanyl Epidemic
Einstein, a fast-growing Canadian cryptocurrency exchange, has announced that it will help in fighting the fentanyl epidemic. The exchange is in the process of blacklisting wallet addresses which have been previously associated with arrests or convictions regarding fentanyl smuggling by authorities in the past.
Curbing a Bad Habit
Speaking at the Blockchain for Business and Government conference in Toronto on March 5, 2018, Christine Duhaime, the firm’s chief anti-money laundering officer, said that the exchange would also ally with other digital currency exchanges in drawing up a list of suspect wallet addresses.
Duhaime further elaborated that the end goal would be to stop fentanyl drug dealers from using cryptocurrency as a means of business by barring all users from sending digital coins to these wallet addresses.
The announcement comes at a time when reports of cryptocurrencies being used as a tool to stimulate the illegal drug industry. The deputy assistant director of ICE Homeland Security gave written testimony to the United States of America Senate on January 25, 2018, about actions being taken to combat the fentanyl epidemic.
He informed the Senate that, “Identifying, analyzing and investigating the payment systems that facilitate the purchase and smuggling of fentanyl is critical to the disruption and dismantlement of networks that smuggle fentanyl and other illicit opioids into the United States,” further highlighting how he suspected that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies built on blockchain technology were being used.
“Furthermore, ICE leverages complex Blockchain technology exploitation tools to analyze the digital currency transactions and identify transactors.”
At the conference, Duhaime said that this blacklist of suspect wallet addresses would be Einstein exchange’s way of giving it back to society. Vancouver ranks the highest in Canada regarding drug overdose-related deaths.
Fentanyl, a synthetic drug which is more than fifty times stronger than heroin, was alone responsible for 922 deaths in Vancouver in 2017.
Einstein previously came up with a blacklist in the past related to addresses associated with ransomware. The list was prepared with the help of Einstein’s user base that had reported the association to the exchange. It is likely that the exchange will exercise this ability in the future as well.
Cryptocurrency exchanges have been in the firing line by financial and regulatory bodies across the globe. There have already been instances in South Korea, for example, where authorities raided exchange offices without prior notice. Officials have openly expressed their discomfort in the use of cryptocurrency to aid and limit illicit activities.
“Right now, crypto-currencies are used for buying fentanyl and other drugs so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way. I think the speculative wave around ICOs [initial coin offerings] and crypto-currencies is super risky for those who go long.”
Naturally, illicit activity, no matter the currency, should be curbed as efficiently as possible. These recent allegations, however, are symptomatic of a maturing sector and also promise a brighter, drug-free future for cryptocurrencies on the whole.