The Age of Cryptocurrencies


My research interest is cryptocurrencies, the most popular of  which you may have heard of is called Bitcoin. Its open source nature has lead to more Bitcoin-inspired cryptocurrencies being created.

Cryptocurrencies in Brief
Cryptocurrencies are a new form of online currency where payments have a high level of anonymity, they’re quicker and most likely cheaper than existing online payment systems, especially for international transactions. They are fully decentralised which means there is not central point of failure or control. Nobody can reverse, stop or change transactions. They’re powered by peer-to-peer software which means everyone who runs the client software plays a role in running the network.

Upsides and downsides to Cryptocurrencies
Unfortunately, because there’s money, and a high level of anonymity, there’s crime. The media likes to focus on this a lot, rather than the legitimate benefits these currencies can provide.

I see cryptocurrencies as novel, unique, useful and empowering. However, they appear to facilitate certain scams, thefts and other jurisdiction specific crime. In that sense, it’s very similar to the Web.

My Interest: Cryptocurrency Related Fraud
My interest is in looking at crime with these currencies. I use my knowledge from my undergraduate in computing science to understand the software and how it works – what realistically is possible based on the existing code?  I’m now based in the criminology department, looking into fraud literature and how it ties in with cryptocurrency related fraud. I’d like to compile a list of, and analyse thefts, scams and other fraud with cryptocurrencies.  I’d like to try and speak to some of the perpetrators of such crimes and understand what their relationship is with the software – did they engage in this behaviour before they found the Web.

Hopefully my research can offer some insights or solutions to the problem of scams and thefts with cryptocurrencies in such a way that doesn’t hinder the underlying concepts of decentralisation and privacy.

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