Considering the amount of growth that has been reported from the darknet community and especially the darknet marketplaces like AlphaBay, a question comes to mind. Which of the darknet markets currently hold the title of the largest on darknet? In this article the focus will be put mostly on the size viewed as the number of listings on a particular market rather than the quality and the reputation of the market in question.
After the dust has settled from the turmoil caused by numerous major market shutdowns, a clear ranking is starting to appear among the contestants for the largest marketplace. While there are many factors that play a role in the growth of a darknet market such as AlphaBay, it seems that timing and security play the most vital part. The largest markets currently are those that were created after the shutdown of Silk Road. While some of them still witnessed failure or just plain exit scammed, most of the current major markets like AlphaBay are from the post-Silk Road era.
While it has recently announced that the Agora market is going to be temporarily shut down due to maintenance it still remains the largest market on darknet until solid proof of any scam-related action is brought to light. Created in 2013 after the Silk Road shutdown it has managed to survive for 2 years, proving that the people behind it are a dedicated group of professionals. This reputation, gained over a long period of time (many markets do not last for more than 6 months) has served to attract customer and vendors on a daily basis, thus increasing the size of the market exponentially. This has caused Agora to have over 26 thousand listings and growing. Not even the recent announcement of temporary shutdown has stirred its users, as many of them are reluctant to switch to other markets during this period.
The second and third places are occupied by AlphaBay and Nucleus. There is not a clear ranking for these two markets as AlphaBay and Nucleus are very similar in size and both are regarded with equal respect. AlphaBay was opened in late 2014 quickly after the confirmation on Evolution market’s exit-scam. This has caused many of Evolution’s users to transfer over to AlphaBay Market making AlphaBay grow very rapidly in a short period of time. AlphaBay is owned by a frequent of carding forums known as alpha02 and while carding business inspires distrust in part of darknet community, there are those who are advocating that alpha02 is an experienced darknet user with extensive knowledge in privacy protection. One thing that makes AlphaBay attract so many users is the fact that AlphaBay is constantly being upgraded with numerous AlphaBay features, enhancing the ease of use of their service.
The fact that Nucleus is on par with AlphaBay concerning size is not that odd considering the fact that it was opened in the wake of Evolution exit scam. One other thing that seems to be getting pointed out a lot by people on various forums is the uncanny resemblance of Nucleus UI compared to the one of the Evolution market. This raises the question if the two marketplaces are in any way connected, but can also be attributed to Nucleus’ owner just wanting to make the site easier to use by utilizing an already familiar UI (which was reported to be quite responsive despite all other accusations).
Compared to the first part of the list the last two markets are half as big but have recorded a steady growth and constant customer influx from the moment they were opened. These are Abraxas and Middle Earth Marketplace.
The slightly bigger of the two, the Abraxas market seems to be a constant topic of conspiracy theories. Some of them are good, some are bad and some are downright ridiculous. There were some particular incidents from the Abaraxas’ staff but all of those were quickly and promptly fixed, leaving only suspicious looks towards the market. While this is not among the largest markets on darknet it certainly is, despite everything, one of the fastest growing ones. If one disregards all the conspiracy theories surrounding it, Abraxas seems like a pretty well-made market, which resembles Agora a lot, to the point that some are claiming it to be Agora’s testing tube for site features.
All things summed up, with many major market shutdown’s recently the landscape of darknet is beginning to shape in such a way that newer markets have less and less possibility for success. The large, already established markets are using their reputation to amass the users who are afraid of being scammed or robbed of their bitcoins in any way. With the Agora’s recent temporary shutdown, AlphaBay is starting to pick up the speed as far as growth goes. With AlphaBay feature heavy site and several measures of security and scam prevention AlphaBay is a very likely contender for the title of the largest darknet market in case Agora does not reappear soon.