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Structure and Anonymity of the Bitcoin Transaction Graph

DOI: 10.3390/fi5020237

Keywords: graph structure, Bitcoin, network dynamics, anonymity, privacy

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Abstract:

The Bitcoin network of decentralized payment transactions has attracted a lot of attention from both Internet users and researchers in recent years. Bitcoin utilizes a peer-to-peer network to issue anonymous payment transactions between different users. In the currently used Bitcoin clients, the full transaction history is available at each node of the network to prevent double spending without the need for a central authority, forming a valuable source for empirical research on network structure, network dynamics, and the implied anonymity challenges, as well as guidance on the future evolution of complex payment systems. We found dynamical effects of which some increase anonymity while others decrease it. Most importantly, several parameters of the Bitcoin transaction graph seem to have become stationary over the last 12–18 months. We discuss the implications.

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