Europol has published a report titled "Exploring Tomorrow's Organised Crime" in which Bitcoin and alternative coins such as Darkcoin are cited as a means for criminals to anonymously receive and send payment for their services. Europol's research looks at eight key drivers it believes will shape the future of organised crime both online and offline within the European Union. Those eight drivers include:
- Innovation in transportation and logistics will enable organised crime groups to increasingly commit crime anonymously over the Internet, anywhere and anytime, without being physically present.
- Nanotechnology and robotics will open up new markets for organised crime and deliver new tools for sophisticated criminal schemes.
- The increasing exploitation of Big Data and personal data will enable criminal groups to carry out complex and sophisticated identity frauds on previously unprecedented levels.
- E-waste is emerging as a key illicit commodity for organised crime groups operating in Europe.
- Economic disparity across Europe is making organised crime more socially acceptable as organised crime groups will increasingly infiltrate economically weakened communities, portraying themselves as providers of work and services.
- Organised crime groups will increasingly attempt to infiltrate industries that depend on natural resources, to act as brokers or agents in the trade.
- Virtual currencies increasingly enable individuals to act as freelance criminal entrepreneurs operating on a crime-as-a-service business model without the need for a sophisticated criminal infrastructure to receive and launder money.
- Organised criminal groups will increasingly target, but also provide illicit services and goods to, a growing population of elderly people exploiting new markets and opportunities.
Contained within the document, Europol shares concerns that "virtual currencies" will intersect with a range of things such as coming political movements which would make them more effective in questioning the authority which the State perceives itself as having. 3D printing of not only firearms and counterfeit goods but 3D printers themselves are also of concern to Europol and it believes that services such as Dark Wallet, bitcoin tumblers and other tools developed by crypto-anarchist groups will be pivotal in allowing the aforementioned markets to proliferate across the globe. Europol believes that some of these tools have been developed under the pretext of resistance to the tyranny of the State, but will be used to commit crimes such as money laundering instead.
Despite these claims, Europol believes the sex trade and the buying and selling of drugs will make up the bulk of criminal transactions to come.
The full document is available here to download.