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Blockchain Sleuthing Firm Elliptic Adds 87 Crypto Assets in Arms Race With Chainalysis

Crypto sleuthing firm Elliptic has expanded its scope to cover some 97% of digital assets by trading volume – the broadest range of any crime-fighting blockchain analytics service, the company said.

Announced Wednesday, Elliptic Navigator adds 87 new crypto assets to the firm’s existing purview.

That said, touting just the number of coins covered can be “fairly irrelevant,” said Elliptic co-founder Tom Robinson, because analytics shops could be including many ERC-20 tokens that nobody really uses.

“More important is the proportion of all trading volume your supported assets cover,” said Robinson. “We now support just over 97% of all assets by trading volume, the broadest of any crypto transaction screening tool.”

That figure beats the competition, Robinson said. Chainlaysis has said it covers 90% and Ciphertrace has said it covers 87%.

It’s increasingly becoming a regulatory expectation that crypto businesses have transaction screening capabilities across all the assets they support. And since exchanges have sought out new customers and revenue, the number of assets they support has grown rapidly.  

On this occasion, Elliptic added a swathe of new tokens and stablecoins in one go, all of them based on the Ethereum ERC-20 standard. Elliptic also adds some tokens individually, as it recently did with Stellar.

Robinson said stablecoin adoption, in particular, has exploded this year. Elliptic can now track tether (USDT), TrueUSD (TUSD), USD Coin (USDC), Gemini Dollar (GUSD), Paxos Standard (PAX), dai and Binance USD (BUSD).

“Elliptic is the clear leader in crypto transaction screening,” Binance Chief Compliance Officer Samuel Lim said in a statement. “Support for BUSD in their compliance products will help us to increase adoption for our stablecoin and maintain regulatory compliance.”

Crooked coins

In terms of which cryptocurrencies attract the most nefarious activity, Robinson said darkweb transactions are dominated by bitcoin and monero. With some of the other cryptocurrencies, such as XRP and stellar (XLM), illicit activity is less about trade or purchases, and more about scams or Ponzi schemes. 

“We saw a similar type of distribution with a lot of the new tokens we are adding,” said Robinson. “It’s more about fraud than any kind of dark market activity; there are no dark marketplaces accepting payment in an obscure ICO token.”

Stablecoins tend to be involved in relatively little illicit or fraudulent activity, said Robinson, probably because the issuers have the functionality to freeze accounts or reverse payments in a given stablecoin.

On the subject of privacy coins, Robinson said monero, with its belt-and-braces approach to privacy features, would be “extremely challenging” to add to Elliptic’s roster of supported assets. “It’s not something we are targeting at the moment,” he said.

“Something like zcash has dual modes of operating either shielded or non-shielded transactions,” Robinson said. “So, we are going to add support for zcash unshielded transactions to Navigator.”

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