People new to Bitcoin commonly think that Bitcoin is for criminals. They think it is for hackers, kidnappers, and drug-dealers, not for normal people like you and me. This idea arose because Bitcoin was indeed used as currency on an early online drug marketplace, called the Silk Road. And it is true that many computer hackers now demand Bitcoin as a ransom payment.
Many people continue to associate Bitcoin with unlawful behavior, but in reality, less than 1% of Bitcoin transactions are actually for illegal activities. In the grand scheme of Bitcoin, the lawful users vastly outnumber the unlawful users. Most people use Bitcoin to store value, send money overseas to relatives, pay rent, give gifts, or trade. Here at Swan Bitcoin, we help people use Bitcoin to save money long-term, much like you would use a piggy bank or a 401k.
However, there is no way to eliminate unlawful users from Bitcoin. Bitcoin is for everybody. It is a neutral, open currency. Anyone who wishes to use it can use it. In that sense, it is sort of like physical cash. Physical cash can be used by murderers and kidnappers, but also by teachers, landscapers, and children selling lemonade at the end of their driveway.
Like physical cash, there is no easy way to stop criminals from using Bitcoin. After all, Bitcoin is available to everyone. Just because some people have used it for evil before, doesn’t mean that the tool itself is evil. Just because physical cash has been given to kidnappers before, that doesn’t mean that you should swear off using physical cash. Or just because bank robbers use a getaway car, doesn’t mean that cars are for criminals!
Fortunately, Bitcoin is legally treated as property in the United States. So it is legal to own and legal to trade. While we condemn using Bitcoin for unethical activities (like ransoms), the vast majority of Bitcoin users are using Bitcoin for wholesome activities (like savings).
So Bitcoin is certainly not just for criminals.