Elliptic Introduces Product to Track Crypto Flows Across all Blockchains in Single Screening

The blockchain analytics firm says the offering can help thwart exploits on cross-chain bridges.

AccessTimeIconAug 10, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Aug 11, 2022 at 9:02 a.m. UTC

Sandali Handagama is a CoinDesk reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She does not own any crypto.

Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic said Wednesday that it can now track crypto movements across and between all blockchains concurrently and in a matter of milliseconds.

Elliptic’s new analytics offering, called Holistic Screening, can be a game changer for companies looking to ensure compliance with regulators, according to a press release shared with CoinDesk. Holistic Screening will also speed up the tracking of stolen fund across multiple blockchains, which are usually processed through cross-chain bridges, the statement added.

“The way in which crypto is used has shifted. Individual crypto assets and blockchains are no longer isolated systems and have become part of a larger, interconnected crypto economy,” Tom Robinson, co-founder and chief scientist at Elliptic, said.

Decentralized cross-chain bridges, which serve as unregulated alternatives to crypto exchanges for transferring funds between blockchains, are hotbeds for illicit activity. Blockchain sleuth Chainalysis estimates that around $2 billion has been stolen via cross-chain bridges this year.

According to Elliptic’s own research, one such bridge called RenBridge has facilitated the laundering of at least $540 million worth of illicit funds, with around a third of those funds believed to have been stolen by North Korean hackers.

Regulators are cracking down on these systems. On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned crypto mixer Tornado Cash, a tool that can obscure the source of funds, which was used to launder tens of millions of dollars’ worth of crypto stolen from the cross-chain bridge Ronin earlier this year.

Many analytics firms provide cross-chain analytics services, but Robinson says Elliptic’s product is automated and scalable, which can beat time-consuming manual investigations.

“This is in contrast to current 'cross-chain' solutions from the likes of Chainalysis, which are focused on enabling lengthy law enforcement investigations, and cannot be used by an exchange for large-scale anti-money laundering or sanctions compliance,” Robinson told CoinDesk in an e-mailed statement.

Chainalysis provides transaction monitoring for cross-chain exposure, a spokesperson for the analytics company told CoinDesk in an emailed statement.

"Our unparalleled depth and breadth of data across multiple chains gives our customers the context and intelligence they need to manage risk. We’re always excited to see other players in the market adding this functionality as it only serves to further our collective noble mission,” the spokesperson said.

Elliptic had to build an “entirely new blockchain analytics engine,” called Nexus, over three years to make Holistic Screening possible, Robinson added.

Nexus enables Elliptic to trace the source or destination of funds through one asset within the same blockchain, through different assets within the same blockchain, as well as trace funds between assets across multiple blockchains.

“Fund flows are traced even when they 'hop' between chains – for example through cross-chain bridges. This tracing goes through thousands of hops if necessary,” Robinson said.

UPDATE (Aug. 11, 2022, 09:02 UTC): Adds comment from Chainalysis.

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Sandali Handagama is a CoinDesk reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She does not own any crypto.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Sandali Handagama is a CoinDesk reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She does not own any crypto.