Blockchain analyst Arkham Intelligence has launched its “Intel Exchange” platform, aiming to “deanonymize the blockchain.” While this may sound like a dystopian concept to many, Arkham perceives it as the realization of a blockchain utopia.
The choice of the name “Arkham” is fitting, evoking dark imagery from Lovecraft’s Cthulu Mythos and the mental institution in the Batman universe. Arkham represents the notion that the world remains dark until someone lights a candle.
Arkham Intelligence is a platform dedicated to blockchain analysis with the motto of “Deanonymizing the Blockchain.” Their latest offering, the “Arkham Intel Exchange,” has generated excitement within the industry. It functions as a marketplace where onchain analyses are traded, including information about the identities behind crypto wallets. This platform aims to satisfy the increasing demand for onchain data in a scalable manner, while also providing talented analysts with an opportunity to monetize their skills.
In this exchange, a buyer of data sets a bounty for a specific onchain address and deposits the reward in another address, likely a multisig address, where Arkham has partial access in a trusted capacity. Blockchain analysts can then submit the requested data and collect the reward. For the initial 90 days, the data remains exclusive to the buyer, after which it becomes part of Arkham’s general platform.
Arkham refers to this approach as “Intel-to-Earn,” but it could equally be called “Doxx-to-Earn.” The concerning aspect is that it incentivizes the very act that should be prevented: the public linking of blockchain addresses to real identities. Questions arise about preventing bankrupt exchanges from selling users’ data or ensuring that DeFi apps, which users log into with their wallets, do not sell inevitable data. There is also the risk of hackers profiting from doxxing users by exploiting tapped data.
Arkham Intelligence, with its platform, seems to be leading us toward a dystopian future where all financial transactions are completely transparent. This is contrary to Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision of privacy for transactions, instead resulting in a hyper-transparent nightmare where once an address is linked to a real name, there is no escape.
However, Arkham views this as more utopian than dystopian. In their “Codex,” the startup openly explains their motivation and worldview. They see the crypto world as covered in darkness, which breeds fear and uncertainty, undermining confidence and growth. Arkham aims to create total crypto enlightenment by deanonymizing the blockchain, not targeting individuals or criminals, but rather the blockchain itself – everyone.
According to Arkham’s Codex, the early days of the internet were characterized by pseudonyms. However, people are increasingly using their real identities online, and the same trend is observed with blockchain identities. Eventually, “everyone’s blockchain identity will be linked to their real identity.” While this may sound intimidating, Arkham argues that it democratizes the system.
Traditional finance grants access to data exclusively to institutions such as banks, brokers, and stock exchanges, while users remain unable to monitor their own information. In contrast, blockchain data is transparent and accessible to all. However, without the tools of blockchain analysts, the data remains largely worthless. Arkham envisions a future where existing expensive tools, like those employed by Chainalysis, will be replaced by accessible tools available to everyone. Only when both the blockchain and the analyses are public can monitoring be fully democratized.
Arkham firmly believes that crypto will become an essential part of the global financial system due to its efficiency, reliability, and robustness. Once people experience crypto, there is no turning back. Who would want to go back to typing in IBAN numbers after using a wallet? Why navigate the complexities of credit and money market accounts when it can all be done onchain with just a few clicks?
In this context, blockchain analysis is expected to follow a trajectory similar to smartphones. Just as smartphones are used by billionaires and refugees alike, crypto intelligence will be embraced by everyone in the future because it is practical.
Arkham’s perspective represents one extreme in the ongoing debate between two conflicting worldviews within the crypto scene. On one side, epitomized by Monero, there is a demand for darkness and privacy, while on the other side, represented by Arkham Intelligence, there is a call for maximum transparency. The high transparency of blockchains is perceived as a flaw by some, while others consider it their most prominent feature.
What may be utopia for some becomes dystopia for others, and vice versa.