From merchant acceptance to gambling — the global industry has seen a drop in spending. Yet, for the darknet, it’s business as usual, and the DM merchants are accepting cryptocurrency.
As the coronavirus pandemic make online commerce the safest way to shop, the darknet sellers are seeing an inflow of new users. Since many countries are in lockdown, consumers are staying at home more and ordering more goods and services to their door.
Some numbers. Empire Market has now passed 1 million users and two years of trading. White House Market is boasting almost 100% uptime in its first six months. When News.Bitcoin.com reviewed White House Market in January, this monero-based darknet market had 6,000 listings. Now, that number is 14,000, and there are also 60,000 users.
Truth is, shoppers both on the clearnet and darknet have reported delays with deliveries, as retailers struggle to meet higher demand. Nevertheless, the sales are good and some retailers even launch coronavirus specials.
Another downside is the darknet has seen a rise of fake medicine, contraband, and sellers trying to capitalize on the pandemic. For instance, there are coronavirus masks for $20 apiece, payable in bitcoin on Empire Market, which is a very blown-up price.
On March 30, the blockchain surveillance firm Chainalysis published a report that shows how the global pandemic impacted the cryptoconomy. According to the report, the darknet market reacted to the price of BTC like “never before” and showed a reduction of sales.
“Perhaps darknet market customers aren’t buying as many drugs given the public health crisis. It’s also possible that vendors slowed down sales during the price drop, out of fear that the Bitcoin they accept one day could be worthless the next,” the study offers a possible explanation.
So far, it may be too early to say. It seems, in general, the economic effects of the coronavirus have been positive on the darknet market, but the global logistics industry is highly vulnerable to further quarantine measures. Besides, the tightening COVID-19 lockdowns and strain on the delivery services could see ecommerce cripple, the darknet included.
Over the next few weeks, we will know whether darknet markets will follow the path of the traditional ones or will see more business.
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