Philip Becnel published an article in Law.com about digital currencies and illicit marketplaces on the so-called Dark Web.
Here is an excerpt of Philip’s article:
Crypto-currency uses cryptography to control its distribution, as opposed to a government or a bank. They are simply unique pieces of encrypted software that have been designated as currency. The premise behind bitcoins and all other digital currencies is that currency in general has value because the community using the currency agrees it has value. There are or will be a finite number of Bitcoins on the planet (I write will be finite because it is currently possible to “mine” them using complex computer algorithms, but by design there can never be more than 21 million Bitcoins), but they can be almost infinitely divided into smaller pieces, and their value in comparison to the dollar fluctuates, just like any other currency, based on market demand. Although the transactions of Bitcoins are pseudonymous, all Bitcoin transactions are displayed on a public ledger called BlockChain. Anyone can view this ledger online and see all of the Bitcoin transactions taking place in real time. The transactions generally range from a few pennies to tens of thousands of dollars.
The rest of Philip’s article can be read here. Note that it requires you to either log in through your LinkedIn account or to sign up for a free subscription to Law.com.