A fistful of bitcoins: Characterizing payments among men with no names

Sarah Meiklejohn, Marjori Pomarole, Grant Jordan, Kirill Levchenko, Damon McCoy, Geoffrey M. Voelker, Stefan Savage

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    Bitcoin is a purely online virtual currency, unbacked by either physical commodities or sovereign obligation; instead, it relies on a combination of cryptographic protection and a peer-to-peer protocol for witnessing settlements. Consequently, Bitcoin has the unintuitive property that while the ownership of money is implicitly anonymous, its flow is globally visible. In this paper we explore this unique characteristic further, using heuristic clustering to group Bitcoin wallets based on evidence of shared authority, and then using re-identification attacks (i.e., empirical purchasing of goods and services) to classify the operators of those clusters. From this analysis, we characterize longitudinal changes in the Bitcoin market, the stresses these changes are placing on the system, and the challenges for those seeking to use Bitcoin for criminal or fraudulent purposes at scale.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationIMC 2013 - Proceedings of the 13th ACM Internet Measurement Conference
    Number of pages13
    StatePublished - 2013
    Event13th ACM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC 2013 - Barcelona, Spain
    Duration: Oct 23 2013Oct 25 2013

    Publication series

    NameProceedings of the ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC


    Other13th ACM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC 2013


    • Anonymity
    • Bitcoin
    • Measurement

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Software
    • Computer Networks and Communications


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