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Transaction waits and blockchain congestion actually discourage “nefarious actors,” according to a study

According to a recent study conducted by researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Mississippi, a blockchain’s level of “fullness” is directly linked to its security. The study, titled “Bitcoin Blocksize, Custodial Security, and Price,” delves deep into the Mt. Gox crash and other instances of cryptocurrency theft from exchanges, shedding light on an intriguing perspective. It posits that malevolent actors, such as money launderers and potential fraudsters, are more likely to target blockchains with “full” blocks, especially when there’s a transaction queue, as it appears to provide an additional layer of protection.

The study’s fundamental premise is rooted in the idea that wrongdoers engaged in illicit activities prefer to complete their money laundering transactions as swiftly as possible. To quote the paper, “This investigation is driven by the following intuition: the closer the blocksize is to the limit, the more likely the next transaction will be published on a later block and not the most current one. When these cybercriminals breach a crypto exchange or ‘shut down’ a fraudulently operated one, they want to expedite the process of laundering the stolen bitcoin.”

To test this hypothesis, the researchers meticulously examined historical Bitcoin blockchain data, along with a comprehensive report on crypto exchange scams. They focused on a sample period spanning from 2010 to 2021, during which they devised a “fullness” score for the blocks to evaluate their data. After establishing a benchmark, the research team analyzed historical data using two specific metrics: the impact of block fullness on Bitcoin’s price and its effectiveness as a deterrent against malicious actors.

The paper’s evaluation affirmed their hypothesis, indicating that “full Bitcoin blocks act as a deterrent to hackers and scammers because they signal congestion.” Additionally, it concluded that full blocks also “signal a rise in network security, which is reflected in the price.” Consequently, they realized their second hypothesis, asserting that block fullness indeed influences Bitcoin’s price. According to the team’s findings, on an “average day” that experiences a cryptocurrency breach or fraud, block fullness is noted to be 20% lower.

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