Top Crypto News – 02/05/2018

These Are the Most Popular Darknet Marketplaces Right Now


Without the Darknet We Probably Wouldn’t Be Here

It is no exaggeration to say that were it not for deep web marketplaces, and specifically Silk Road, there’s a chance that bitcoin might never have taken off. At the very least, its adoption would have been hindered. VCs courting crypto funds; entrepreneurs seeking to tokenize the world; startups putting improbable things on the blockchain; ICOs amassing ether: none of these things would exist had a twenty-something dropout named Ross Ulbricht not decided to sell psychedelic mushrooms and accept payment in bitcoin.

These Are the Most Popular Darknet Marketplaces Right Now

Silk Road is long gone, but the legacy Ross Ulbricht laid lives on through its successors. Deep Dot Web’s comparison chart contains a breakdown of no less than 10 DNMs, detailing the commission they take and listing features such as multisig, 2FA, and forced PGP. The deep web’s most popular markets have made it to the top on account of their longevity, range of wares, and generally positive reviews. For those inclined to enter the deep web, the following marketplaces may be of interest.

Dream Market

These Are the Most Popular Darknet Marketplaces Right NowThe deep web’s oldest marketplace, Dream has been standing since 2013, which is aeons in darknet terms. Exit scams and LE busts usually put paid to DNMs in less than 12 months. The fact that Dream is still standing attests to its robustness. It accepts bitcoin core, bitcoin cash, and monero and boasts 50,000 digital goods and 63,000 drugs listings. Its “Other” category contains designer watches, retro Air Jordan sneakers, €500 notes, credit card numbers, and hentai porn subscriptions. There’s also a “Services” section where you can purchase fake IDs or order Youtube dislikes on a video you particularly hate. For 0.8 BTC you can disappear completely before emerging with an entirely new identity.

Wall Street

These Are the Most Popular Darknet Marketplaces Right Now
Wall Street

Riddled with vice and double-dealing, Wall Street is a den of iniquity. Its deep web namesake, on the other hand, is highly regarded. The site claims to have almost 3,000 vendors and 400,000 customers and accepts BTC and XMR. Wall Street has less wares then Dream but more categories including “Security & Hosting” which can be found alongside “Fraud”. Not everything that can be bought on the deep web is illicit – just most things.


Point Marketplace

Point, formerly Tochka, is a Russian DNM that’s been running since 2015. It has a number of innovative features including dead drops, enabling vendors to leave goods at a location where the buyer can later collect it. The site has less uptime than Wall Street and Dream (90% versus 97% and 98% respectively), and has been offline for the past couple of days. Otherwise, Point’s customer service is highly rated, and the site stocks all the usual goodies you’d expect to find on the deep web.

These Are the Most Popular Darknet Marketplaces Right Now
A sample listing from Dream

Anyone considering checking out Point, Wall Street, Dream, or any of the many other darknet marketplaces – plus P2P marketplace Open Bazaar – should take precautions to preserve their anonymity. Buyers should also note that certain items may be illegal to purchase in their country. Other risks include the possibility of law enforcement surreptitiously taking over a site and using it as a honeypot to collect user information, as happened with Hansa.

For cryptocurrency users who have no desire to transact on the deep web, visiting DNMs serves as a sort of pilgrimage: a reminder of where bitcoin came from, and an acknowledgment that it was vice that brought us here. Everyone involved in the cryptocurrency space today owes a debt to Ross Ulbricht, Silk Road, and the darknet markets it spawned.

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Not Just Bitcoin: OpenBazaar Is Gearing Up for a Radical Redesign


OpenBazaar is gearing up for an overhaul.

Since startup OB1 launched in 2014 to develop a “bitcoin-powered” online market, the founders have focused almost exclusively on the world’s largest cryptocurrency. But with the scaling debate still raging in some ways, OB1 co-founder Washington Sanchez took to Twitter recently to vent his frustrations about that course of action.

“I personally wasted so much time in the bitcoin scaling civil war that I could have used designing [and] building dapps (decentralized applications) and opening up OpenBazaar to multiple currencies,” Sanchez wrote. “Instead, we had to wait for fees in bitcoin to cripple any consumer usage before we woke up.”

Strong words – especially in light of a number of developers working diligently on layer-two technologies, such as lightning network, which push transactions off-chain in an effort to scale for an ever-growing user base.

Still, it’s also become clear to OB1 that its user base not only wants to be able to use bitcoin, it wants to use other crypto assets on OpenBazaar’s peer-to-peer (P2P) network.

While bitcoin remains the most widely used – with 11,000 listings of items to purchase with the cryptocurrency – other coins are making a mark for OpenBazaar’s 5,000 weekly users. There are around 1,122 listings for items to buy with bitcoin cash, the cryptocurrency that forked off bitcoin in August 2017, plus a few dozen products being sold for privacy-oriented cryptocurrency zcash.

And it seems today, the founders of OB1 are ready to open their minds and platform to a whole new world of cryptocurrencies.

Speaking to that new outlook, OB1 co-founder Brian Hoffman told CoinDesk the vision for OpenBazaar is to be “the easiest and fastest way to start a business that accepts cryptocurrency and to buy or sell anything you want with cryptocurrency.”

And on Twitter, Sanchez seconded that sentiment, saying, “OpenBazaar is supposed to be a free and open protocol for trade using cryptocurrency, a way for currencies and tokens to gain meaningful economic utility to acquire goods and service, and an entry point for people to earn and onboard.”

He added:

“This vision cannot be limited to a single coin.”

But that shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise. The ambitious redesign and the move to a multi-cryptocurrency mission was at least hinted at previously.

For one, Hoffman announced plans to launch OpenBazaar Token (OBT) during crypto conference Token Summit in December, and the team laid out some of its other plans in January after raising $5 million (bringing its total to $10.5 million) from investors like China-based crypto mining hardware giant Bitmain.

During that time, OB1 mentioned a web and mobile app and a service to allow users to trade cryptocurrencies with each other.

But that goal isn’t just about making a pretty penny monetizing its services (currently it only makes money off affiliate links), but about facilitating broader engagement to encourage the types of communities seen on social media.

“We’re trying to drive more adoption as a network, as a protocol,” Hoffman said. “It’s kind of a longer-term play.”

A crypto Pinterest

And the start of that play, according to Hoffman, will happen later this month with the debut of a new section for swapping several types of cryptocurrencies, including litecoin and zcash.

“Ultimately, the platform can be used with any cryptocurrency that supports a few key things like multi-signature [wallets] and if it can be used as a transactional currency,” Hoffman told CoinDesk.

Albeit, OpenBazaar won’t be able to support every coin right away. Currently, its aim is to facilitate P2P transactions (without trading fees) among the top-ranking cryptocurrencies.

On top of that, once OpenBazaar’a native crypto token OBT launches, users will be able to earn and use those.

The launch of that isn’t slated till after Q4 2018, though, since the company must build the features necessary for earning. Those features take from several social media giants’ playbooks, allowing users to set up and post statuses to feeds similar to Twitter and Facebook and create curation boards a la Pinterest.

Creating sought-out curation boards or having popular posts will earn you OBT. In this way, OpenBazaar is “using the token to incentivize activity on the platform,” Hoffman said, adding:

“You don’t need the token to operate OpenBazaar, necessarily, but you can earn crypto by helping make the network better.”

After OBT launches, OpenBazaar plans on taking its multi-currency outlook one step further next year, offering support for ethereum and ethereum tokens, even crypto-collectibles such as CryptoKitties and other digital pets.

“One of my biggest regrets is not realising the awesomeness of ethereum and other projects and dapps, because I was blinded by my bitcoin maximalism,” Sanchez tweeted.

And with this, the team hopes to attract more people across a variety of cryptocurrency communities.

“There’s no reason to block those people out,” Hoffman said.

Beyond the node

Yet, what remains one of the startup’s highest barriers to mass adoption is the complexity of accessing the market.

Currently, it requires users run a full node and interact only through a clunky desktop app.

As such, OpenBazaar is looking to revamp its desktop website and launch mobile apps (one from iOS and one for Android), which will start being beta-tested in June.

At first, these interfaces will feature read-only versions of the desktop app where newbies can merely browse through listings and profiles, but later, OpenBazaar will create a browser-ready site like any other site (no full node needed). And then by the end of 2018, those interfaces will allow for purchases too.

And on top of putting a significant amount of its developer power towards making the marketplace more accessible and open, OpenBazaar also plans to make ideation and development more accessible to those outside its ranks.

To that end, OB1 co-founder Sam Patterson will soon split off to launch a separate non-profit, The OpenBazaar Foundation, which will focus on giving the community a conduit for influencing what features make it into OpenBazaar’s open-source protocol.

And that should give the hundreds of people interested in attending the company’s developer meetings (500 people RSVP’ed for the next one so far) a better way to connect.

Hoffman concluded:

“We’ve spent the past few years making sure the protocol is stable. Now building apps on top is a much easier process.”

Marketplace at dark image via Shutterstock
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Crypto Exchange Coinsecure Says Theft Probe Is Holding Up Refunds


Coinsecure is still unable to repay its customers following a debilitating theft last month, the India-based cryptocurrency exchange said over the weekend.

The exchange – which lost nearly 440 bitcoins in mid-April in an incident that has been publicly blamed on a “rogue” employee –  announced on April 29 that while it previously hoped to begin returning customer funds by this point, it remains unable to do so because of a police investigation.

The statement continued:

“When investigations are underway, we don’t have much of a say and do need permissions from the authorities to start the compensation process, which we are yet to receive. We will update you when we have definite dates around the start of the process.”

New contracts will be issued to all customers for both Indian rupees and bitcoin, Coinsecure went on to write, without elaborating.

Coinsecure previously blamed chief security officer Amitabh Saxena for allegedly exposing the exchange’s private keys while trying to distribute bitcoin gold, a cryptocurrency offshoot of bitcoin, to customers, as previously reported. At the time, chief executive Mohit Kalra said “our customers will be indemnified from our company’s funds,” but cautioned it might take time to recover the stolen coins.

The company later announced that if all of the stolen bitcoins were recovered, customers would be repaid fully in the cryptocurrency, but otherwise, they would be paid in a mix of bitcoins and rupees. In particular, Coinsecure announced that 90 percent of the funds would be repaid in rupees according to the price on April 9. At the time, the token was trading at under $7,000, but has rallied to just under $9,000 as of press time.

“Please do bear with us as we are working on multiple fronts to resolve the issues at hand at the earliest for our users,” this weekend’s statement explained.

Image via Shutterstock
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Coinbase Valuation Jumps from $1.6 Billion to as High as $8 Billion


The $8 Billion Unicorn

Coinbase Valuation Jumps From $1.6 Billion to as High as $8 BillionSan Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has reportedly seen its market valuation skyrocket to as high as $8 billion. To help put this figure into perspective, Nasdaq Inc., which operates the NASDAQ market and eight European stock exchanges, only has a market cap of less than $15 billion.

Last summer, before the bitcoin trading mania reached its peak around the end of 2017, Coinbase was priced by VC investors at an approximated $1.6 billion. Unsurprisingly, the incredible revenues that period, when the price of bitcoin was at its height, brought to cryptocurrency exchanges across the world made their owners reevaluate such low previous offers, as was recently reported in the case of Binance.

Earn Deal Details

Coinbase Valuation Jumps From $1.6 Billion to as High as $8 BillionLast month the company acquired known as 21 Inc), a service that allows senders to pay users in cryptocurrency to reply to emails and complete tasks. New details from the negotiations by the two sides about that deal reveal that the management of Coinbase valued their exchange at $8 billion.

The acquisition was valued at $100 million, and at least part of the sum was offered to the founders and investors of Earn in the shape of Coinbase stock. As the company’s shares are not traded on a public stock exchange, the offer was based on the self estimation of Coinbase for its worth, from which the $8 billion figure comes.

And the incredible rise in the valuation of the company isn’t just internally-based. Brokers have reportedly turned to Coinbase stock owners in recent weeks with offers to buy existing shares at a price that will place the total value of the exchange between $4.5 billion and $6 billion, according to people familiar with the offers cited by Silicon Valley media Recode.

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