What are Crypto Mixers? Are they legal?

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September 9, 2022
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What are Crypto Mixers?

The blockchain for Bitcoin is absolutely public. You can get a full record of all bitcoin transactions since the currency's introduction in early 2009 by visiting a blockchain explorer.

That is not an issue, but rather a key characteristic for some. However sadly, the public nature of the Bitcoin blockchain is a significant privacy shortcoming for people who must require a little more anonymity.

These individuals are the target market for Crypto mixers, also known as Bitcoin mixers or crypto tumblers. These mixers are exclusive third-party solutions that enable people to protect their anonymity when making cryptocurrency transactions.

The purpose of bitcoin or crypto mixers is to eliminate any digital signatures connected to a transaction. As a result, it is challenging for entities to identify the transaction's origin and its ultimate destination.

What are Crypto Mixers? 

As already said before, Crypto mixers are tools that mix up a certain quantity of tokens in private pools before dispensing them to the people that it is intended for.

The goal is to make it impossible to determine that person A delivered person B whatever number of tokens by shuffling currency through a black box. A public explorer will only display the fact that user A contributed a particular token to a mixer together with several other users, and that user B received that token from the mixer along with several different users. That is the basic working of Crypto mixers. 

What are the two types of Crypto Mixers? 

There are two types of Crypto Mixers, namely: 

Centralised Mixers

Companies known as centralized mixers will accept your crypto tokens and pay you back the tokens in exchange for a charge. While they provide a quick way to tumble tokens, they also still pose a privacy concern because the mixer itself will still have a previous record connecting the transactions even though the linkages between "incoming" and "outgoing" tokens will not be made public. It entails that at some point of time in the near future, the company might divulge those records and disclose a user's connection to peers.

Decentralized Mixers

Decentralized mixers make use of a few mechanisms like CoinJoin protocols to completely conceal transactions in either a peer-to-peer or coordinated fashion. In essence, this particular protocol enables a sizable user base to combine a sum of tokens (for example, 100 users want to mix 1 bitcoin each) and then redistribute it so that everyone receives 1 bitcoin back, but no one can determine who received what or where it originated from. 

Are Crypto Mixers legal? 

Mixers are a breeding ground for money laundering thanks to the ability to obscure bitcoin transactions, drawing in the likes of tax evaders and criminals looking to conceal the proceeds of their illicit activities.

Depending on the country you are situated in, using such services may or may not be illegal. Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski commented that employing mixers to conceal cryptocurrency transactions "is a crime" in February 2021. 

Roman Sterlingov, the Russian-Swedish inventor of the bitcoin tumbling service "Bitcoin Fog," was detained by American police two months later for assisting in the laundering of $335 million. Founder of the bitcoin mixer Helix, Larry Harmon, surrendered in August 2021 as to assisting darknet market criminals in the laundering of almost $300 million.  

But they're not just employed by crooks. According to research conducted by the blockchain analytics company Chainalysis, everyday crypto users who just seek privacy tend to use mixers more than any other. However, the legality of mixers will vary depending on the user's location and local regulations there, like aforesaid.

For instance, the US government again has detained the inventors of numerous mixers for their role in money laundering. In a similar vein, the European Union has also issued anti-money laundering measures that have reduced the feasibility of mixers for individuals looking to participate in the larger crypto industry

The problems of using Crypto Mixers 

Even mixers have their shortcomings. There's a slim chance that someone else in the mixer transferred the same amount of bitcoin as you did, plus deducting the tumbler's charge. It won't be too difficult to continue the flow of funds if a law enforcement agency has knowledge of the address used by its first suspect and the second suspect is the only one to have gotten a bit less of a particular amount. The more people use the mixer, the more difficult this problem becomes, to address. 

Some exchanges forbid the entry or exit of mixed bitcoin. Exchanges classify mixed bitcoin as "tarnished" because they can detect mixers. For instance, Binance has prohibited withdrawals to Wasabi, a bitcoin wallet that safeguards user anonymity and integrates the well-liked CoinJoin mixing platform. Samourai and JoinMarket are two other well-known bitcoin mixers.

It's crucial to remember that not all mixing services are legal, and some are much less successful than others at hiding and obscuring your crypto transactions. Before making use of a mixer, be sure to complete your homework and research the basics.

Few Alternatives to Crypto mixers 

Relax, The flow of bitcoin transactions can be concealed using methods that do not necessarily require a bitcoin mixer.

With hacks, thieves frequently drain money through numerous exchanges using accounts they've made using identities they've cheaply purchased or stolen from others. Chain-hopping, this known method, relies on the fact that it takes law enforcement a prolonged time to order exchanges to close accounts and that it is difficult for exchanges to identify suspicious accounts if they have already gone through know-your-customer (KYC) checks. 

Insisting that they are not only exclusive to criminals, privacy advocates claim that techniques like privacy coins are a potent means to prevent the government from spying on your financial activities. Monero uses one-time use "stealth" addresses and a combination of real and fake transaction signatures to mask the movement of money. 

When the Silk Road, one of the first significant dark web marketplaces, had a bitcoin tumbler built into its infrastructure, the well-known secure White House Market solely welcomed Monero.

Zcash, as an alternative, provides elective private transactions that rely on zero-knowledge proofs and don't disclose transaction data. Dash's private transaction methods operate somewhat similarly to CoinJoin.


To conclude, we must acknowledge the fact that the degree of privacy that cryptocurrencies provide is a subject of great misunderstanding still. Cryptocurrencies don't totally conceal a holder's identity; they merely offer pseudonymity.

According to the definition of a public ledger (blockchain), anyone can examine the transaction records if they so choose. Your transactions could be utilized to disclose real-world identities even though they are just connected with an address and not with any kind of identity.

For people who need more confidentiality and security, such as those who live in oppressive regimes or who want to keep their crypto wallet addresses private, using a cryptocurrency mixing service might be a smart option. 

However, the 1-3% fee that most mixing services charge per transaction may be unnecessarily too expensive for some people. The risk of using an unreliable mixing service that steals the cryptocurrency you send them comes next in line.  

With all this being said, the good news that stands is that Crypto mixers are not made illegal yet, and it is your individual preference if you want to use them or not. 

From All the HyperGrowth Team
Your Crypto Startup Accelerator
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