It’s no secret that, in an effort to ease the concerns of global regulators and secure lucrative partnerships in the IT and banking sectors, the “bitcoin industry” has over the last year been on a steady campaign to rebrand as the “blockchain” or “digital asset” industry.
But as much as the bitcoin industry would like to distance itself from associations with drugs and crime, the technology still remains both popular with, and popularly associated with, those involved with such activities.
In process of writing a forthcoming book, I embarked on a 48-state research effort last summer to learn more about money and finance. Far from the headlines, I would meet only a handful of people that used bitcoin.
And nearly every time it was for drug sales, both legal and illegal.
In South Carolina, a man who camps out during the week behind a hostel struck up a conversation, drawn by the bitcoin decal on my car window. Sure enough, Dave, a married man in his 30s, didn’t learn about bitcoin in The Wall Street Journal. Dave sells Kratom, a tropical Southeast Asian plant known for its opiate-like effects for pain and anxiety relief, online in