The rise of online banking and paperless transactions has made things a lot easier for us. Instead of going to the banks to process financial documents, we just have to go online. We can sign up for e-banking systems or transfer funds using accounts like PayPal. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have also become more popular recently especially since the transactions can be very fast and difficult to trace.
Aside from regular banking, they have also been used for other purposes like online shopping or gambling. Transactions that would take days or even weeks to finish can now be done in just a few minutes. These options were available to people for several years now. For some countries though, they have only gained traction recently. This can also be attributed to the lack of internet connection in several areas as well as the lack of information on how the PayPal or Bitcoin is used.
Not all good
The sad part though is that some bad elements have already taken advantage of these payment methods to transfer funds to groups that are linked to terrorism. This has become huge news in Indonesia especially when it was discovered that Islamic militants used those options for various financial transactions. Traditional methods are no longer used in smuggling funds into the country. As such, it was a huge challenge finding the perpetrators.
Several militants who were fighting alongside ISIS were discovered to have benefitted from this method. This has prompted several government agencies in Indonesia as well as various parts of the world to be tighter in their regulations and implementing security measures.
The anonymity works for them
The problem about Bitcoin is that there are no traces of the transaction. It is difficult to determine where the money comes from or who receives it. Those who are involved though can easily cash in what has been transferred online. Most countries also don’t have laws covering the use of Bitcoin especially since it is a relatively new technology.
Given this fact, a lot of ISIS sympathizers can easily help fund the extremists, especially in providing funds that are eventually used to create bombs or buy arms to be used in fighting the war.
The government though has done way more than the usual in order to track those who are using Bitcoin or PayPal for various transactions. Sadly though, considering how difficult it is to track the transactions, their efforts end up futile.
On the bright side though, due to the difficulty of accessing the internet, terrorist groups in some areas have a hard time using PayPal or Bitcoin. This is why they are forced to make use of conventional methods in transferring funds. This is where they are usually caught. The moment they mix online transactions with traditional methods, they start to become more vulnerable.
Though there is progress in some aspects of this endeavor, it is still alarming. This could get worse in the future especially if they explore even more the practical uses of PayPal and Bitcoin transactions. They might even create one themselves.
Featured and 1st image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net
2nd image courtesy of jk1991 / freedigitalphotos.net