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Expand chart
Data: Chainalysis 2022 Crypto Crimes Trends Report; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Illicit activities like cybercrime, money laundering and terrorist financing made up only 0.15% of all crypto transactions conducted in 2021, according to a new report from Chainalysis, a blockchain data platform.

Why it matters: This is a sign of crypto's growing mainstream popularity — and a rebuke to critics who say digital currency is mainly for criminals.

Yes, but: Crypto crime is at an all-time high in absolute terms, the report found. It's just that the growth rate of legitimate activity far outpaced the growth rate for illicit activity, Kim Grauer, director of research at Chainalysis, tells Axios.

The big picture: Crypto use soared in 2021. Transaction volume ballooned to $15.8 trillion up from $2.4 trillion in 2020.

  • The growth was due, in part, to the growing popularity of decentralized finance, a term that encompasses all the bank-like activity that happens on the blockchain without a bank — like lending money.

Worth noting: Chainalysis acknowledges that the data could change with additional information. Last year, it reported that illicit activity made up 0.34% of 2020 crypto transaction volume, but revised that number upward to 0.62%.

  • And one big scam can move the needle: The 2019 number was an outlier, the firm said, because of the "PlusToken Ponzi scheme."

Go deeper

Meme stock traders' next chapter

Expand chart
Note: Shows data from TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab until entities combined in Oct. 2020; Data: Company filings, Nasdaq; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

If 2021 was the big year for the swarm of at-home traders banding together, 2022 will be the big test for whether they stick around or abandon ship.

Why it matters: The wildest trading phenomenon in recent memory ushered in big changes that have — so far — had a lasting impact.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.