Reports by Banklesstimes show that in 2021, drug-focused markets brought in a $1.8 billion revenue worth of cryptocurrency. This amount was more than 85% of the total revenue from Darknet markets. Fraud shops, the only other contributing market, accounted for roughly $300 million of the total $2.1 billion. The fraud shop market includes selling stolen logins, credit cards, and more.
But, the revenue amount could be higher. Reports indicate that an additional revenue of $112 million was generated from direct buyer-to-seller sales, without going through the darknet markets.
Number of active markets drop despite increasing revenue
There were several market closures in 2021, and by the end of the year, there were 5 fewer fraud shops and 13 less drug markets.
We should also note that the drug markets have been on a decline over the last five years. The number of active users declined from about 1.7 million in 2016 to 1.2 million in 2021. The number of transfers also dwindled from 11.7 million to 3.7 million.
BanklessTimes notes that although the revenue generated from these crime-focused industry was on the rise; the actual number of active markets is decreasing. The increase in the revenue generated from these markets is thus attributed to larger transaction volumes, which does more than compensate for the fewer markets.
Users in the drug-focused markets are now making bigger payments for every transaction. During the same period, the average size of a transaction has increased by more than 208%, from 2016’s $160 to $493 worth of crypto in 2021.