Deloitte recently released a report, The Banking Industry Outlook, which estimates that blockchain-based payment systems could equal the volume of the U.S. Automated Clearing House (ACH ) financial transactions network by 2020.
Despite this promising outlook for the growing blockchain industry, regulatory bodies fear that digital currencies attract illicit uses. This narrative was driven by the infamous Silk Road marketplace, which propelled bitcoin into the regulatory spotlight.
In October 2013, federal agents stormed a San Francisco library and arrested Ross Ulbricht. His unencrypted laptop gave former FBI special agent Ilhwan Yum the opportunity to trace the bitcoin transactions.
During Ulbricht’s trial, Yum testified that he followed over 700,000 bitcoins across Bitcoin’s public ledger, from the marketplace to what appeared to be Ross Ulbricht’s personal wallet. Ulbricht was later jailed for running the illicit marketplace.
The investigation put misconceptions of the anonymous nature of bitcoin to rest. However, it is a large task to track and trace the movement of every bitcoin. A blockchain startup, called SABR, claimed that its software could have completed the task in a matter of days.
SABR describes its product as a “Palantir” for the blockchain, a name used by revered author J. R. R. Tolkien. The author