COVID-19 did not stop illicit trades: dark markets hit a new record

A new blog report by blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis reveals that dark markets, where cryptocurrency is used to buy and sell illicit goods online, generated a record in trading of illicit goods in 2020. Illicit trade revenue rose by 23% to 1.75 billion United States dollars (USD) of cryptocurrency in 2020, despite that COVID-19 related restrictions have caused major shipping delays.

The rise of dark markets is led by the Russian bazaar Hydra, which serves Russian-speaking countries only and jumped by 33% to 1.37 billion USD (75% of total trades worldwide). Hydra dominates the dark market because Ukraine and Russia are the top two adopters of cryptocurrency in the world.


Chainalysis Team. Covid is Causing Shipping Issues, But Natural Competitive Forces Are Causing Darknet Market Consolidation. Chainalysis blog (2020)

M. Leising. Darknet Market Had a Record 2020, Led by Russian Bazaar Hydra. Bloomberg (2021)

Image: from Chainalysis blog

Fri Feb 05 2021







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The research presented in the website is supported by the "COVID-19: Monitoring the effects of the pandemic on illicit online trade" project funded by the ESRC. Content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) unless otherwise specified in single posts.