Bitcoin has been the cryptocurrency of choice on darknet markets since its inception. However, the increased fees and slow transaction times are forcing darknet users to consider other coins.

Indeed, Bitcoin has become too mainstream for criminals as the extent of law enforcement tracking powers have been disclosed.

It is often very difficult to get a judgement of exactly which coins are favoured by those who operate on the dark web. However, an interesting report has recently delved into this internet underground and found interesting results.

They conducted an extensive analysis while looking into all of the online forums, marketplaces and message boards. The results of their research may surprise you…

A Dissatisfaction with Bitcoin

One thing that the researchers discovered was a common trend across borders and languages was the increasing difficulty that came with using Bitcoin. Given the size of the usual transactions on the dark web, the fees that were required made them unfeasible.

Apart from the increased fees of completing the transactions, the time for confirmations was also increasing substantially. Hence, vendors had to institute a rule that they would wait for three confirmations on the network before concluding the sale was complete.

Slow transaction times are frustrating as is but they are that much more disconcerting for those users who use them to purchase something illegal from the darkweb.

Recorded Future Study

Darkweb polls of cryptocurrencies to use
Results of DarkWeb Polls. Source:

The investigators at Recorded Future then went on to try and establish which of those coins are beginning to replace Bitcoin as the currency of choice on the Darknet. The results of the poll that they conducted are to the right.

This poll was conducted on a criminal hacking forum and it clearly shows that the privacy concious coins are the leading contender as the next dark net version of Bitcoin. Monero (XMR) and Dash took the first and second place with 21.82% and 20.61% respectively.

However, these were just the results of one forum on the darknet and hence cannot be considered as a comprehensive representation. After doing a more thorough analysis, the team concluded that Bitcoin was still the vendor coin of choice on the networks.

Breakdown of Merchant Acceptance on the DarkNet
Accepted Coins by Vendors. Source:

All vendors that were surveyed by the researchers still offered Bitcoin as an accepted means of payment. What is more of a surprise though is that Litecoin is the second most accepted coin by the vendors with over 30% of them accepting it as a method of payment.

Coming in at third place was Dash with a 20% share of vendors who accepted it as a payment method. This shows that although there are other cryptocurrencies such as Monero who have more privacy protocols than Litecoin, the vendors loved the fast transaction times and low transaction fees of Litecoin. The results are in the image to the right.

They also broke down the results based on region of operation for more clarity. As you can see, those who operate in the English speaking world are more worried about privacy and opt for Monero. The Eastern European markets are more concerned about transparent fees and have favoured Litecoin.

What the Results Mean

The research gives us further evidence that innovation and adaption is fully underway on the dark web. Given the problems associated with Bitcoin transaction backlogs and law enforcement blockchain audits, they are turning to other coins.

However, it also shows that there is no uniform standard accross darkweb users as to which coin should replace it. There seems to be notion that users want a coin that is quick to use and relatively cheap as well as having advanced security protocols.

Perhaps it is fitting that coins such as Litecoin and Monero have high marks in this community. The senior developers of the two cryptocurrencies have flirted with the idea of a cross chain atomic swap.

It would be important to watch how the adoption rates of different cryptocurrencies progress on the dark web. If there is one thing that we can learn from Bitcoin it is that the early adopters of the dark web have a knowledge of what is likely to disrupt the mainstream later.

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Posted by Alex

Blogging about the latest cryptocurrency news and insights to hit the wires. Editor at the Coin Bureau