Crypto Darknet Transactions Boomed In 2018
Since Bitcoin (BTC) burst onto the global stage in 2009, the cryptocurrency, known for its decentralized, immutable, censorship-resistant, pseudonymous, and borderless nature, has become a medium for transactions of all shapes and size. And just like U.S. dollars and other government-issued currencies, BTC has found use cases in illicit transactions. Whether it be purchasing questionable goods or otherwise, the flagship cryptocurrency has found a place.
Per a recent report by the way of Reuters, which cited data gathered by Chainalysis, a leading blockchain data analytics consortium, Bitcoin-related transactions on darknet markets, which offer fake IDs, over-the-counter drugs (recreational), among other articles of contraband, have risen dramatically since January 2018. This rally in darknet-related transactions comes as BTC fell from an all-time high of $20,000 to a yearly low of $3,150 in late-December.
It isn’t clear how the analytics group, which is often employed by governmental agencies to weed out bad actors, discerned ‘normal’ transactions from those questionable, but Chainalysis revealed that $2 million per day worth of BTC were routed through the darknet’s peer-to-peer marketplaces. Overall, $600 million was spent on darknet markets throughout 2018, compared to $700 million in 2017. While the decline in transaction value could be seen in a negative light, considering BTC fell by over 70% within the same time period, a 14.3% drop is relatively mere.
Kim Grauer, a senior economist at Chainalysis, chalked the slight decline in darknet transactions to the closure of AlphaBay and Hansa, two “major markets,” in mid-2017, which purportedly stunted flows into early-2018. Grauer added:
The reason for that drop is more law enforcement activity… It would be misleading to think that this year it (the volume) will go down.
Why This Stat Is Bullish For Bitcoin
So you may be gandering at the title and thinking, why is this non-innocuous statistics an optimistic sign for BTC and the broader cryptocurrency market/sector?
Well, let me explain. Although I do not agree with (much of) what goes on via the darknet, the rise in ‘illicit’ transactions underscores a forward-thinking, bullish Bitcoin trend. More specifically, the monumental growth of Bitcoin’s underlying multi-faceted fundamentals throughout 2018. So make no mistake, while the collapse in price is harrowing, people are still using BTC in transactions, not just pure speculation.
Per previous reports from Ethereum World News, data compiled by Jameson Lopp, the chief technology officer of Casa, accentuated that from a fundamental perspective, 2018 was Bitcoin’s best year yet. Hashrate doubled, while a cumulative $410 billion in value was transacted on the “world’s most secure transactional settlement layer.” Bitcoin’s scaling solutions also saw notable levels of adoption. SegWit, a short-term, ‘bandaid-esque’ solution that squeezes more transactions into blocks, saw use swell from 10% to 40% over 2018. The Lightning Network, a long-term scaling solution that takes advantage of off-chain ledgers to facilitate effectively free, low cost, scalable, immutable, and private transactions, swelled to 500+ BTC capacity.
And while 2019-specific statistics are scant and hard to come by, preliminary data indicates that the following 12 months will continue to see the flagship cryptocurrency & blockchain network continue to gain traction. This isn’t baseless speculation. Per our previous reports, Coinstar, a North American kiosk provider with tens of thousands of offerings across the U.S. & Canada, recently joined hands with Coinme, a Bitcoin ATM upstart, to implement their services into Coinstar’s terminals. Now, over 20,000 kiosks can buy BTC with their spare change.