Eastern Europe’s sixth-largest crypto service is a darknet market

Blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis has found that darknet markets exert a disproportionate presence in Eastern Europe’s crypto sector.


In an excerpt from Chainalysis’ 2020 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report, the firm asserts that Eastern Europe is responsible for “more global darknet market activity than any other region,” with the anonymous free market Hydra comprising the region’s sixth-largest crypto service.

Regional shares of global darknet market transfer volume: Chainalysis


The report estimates that Hydra generated more than $1.2 billion in crypto revenue between June 2019 and July 2020. The platform is among the world’s largest darknet marketplaces despite solely servicing the Eastern Europe.

Chainalysis estimates that 1.4% of Eastern Europe’s $41 billion 12-month crypto volume is sent to illicit entities. In percentage terms that’s slightly behind Latin America — where 1.6% of total transfer volume is destined for illegal platforms — however the total volume in Latin America is substantially smaller..

Eastern Europe is also home to “the highest-earning ransomware network administrators and ransomware-as-a-service operators,” with the region receiving 23% of global transfers destined for ransomware addresses.

Despite the region’s high levels of crypto-powered cyber crime, the report notes that Eastern Europe has seen significant adoption of crypto assets for legitimate purposes as well, with Ukraine and Russia ranking as the top two countries in the Chainalysis’ Global Crypto Adoption Index. 

Approximately 85% of Earstern European crypto transfers are described as “professional-sized” transactions worth more than $10,000, with Chainalysis noting the emerging presence of crypto fund managers in the region.

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