Several darknet markets and vendors are asking their customers to make payments in Monero instead of Bitcoin as BTC transaction fees have skyrocketed over the last few months. The rise in fees is not only a headache for markets that escrow user funds but for buyers and vendors who must wait for lulls in activity in order for their transactions to confirm. Depending how significantly a fee is underpaid, this wait can equate to hours, days, or even weeks, given the tremendous activity on the Bitcoin network.
Nearly all major markets that accept both BTC and XMR are encouraging their buyers to make the switch to Monero for payments, making announcements about the crippling situation on their front pages. Vendors who make use of the Direct Pay (per order) payment option available on some markets have been limiting their acceptance of Bitcoin, as well.
Announcement posted on the ASAP market homepage making a plea to switch to Monero.
“For OPSEC reasons & these transaction fees, we are taking Bitcoin off the table for a way of payment when purchasing from us,” wrote vendor ChemicalsInChains on Dread. “It will be Monero only from here on out. We are so sorry if this is an inconvenience but we have lost a significant amount of money in the last few weeks due to transaction fees and we cannot keep going on losing this much money,” they added.
Vendor ChemicalsInChains announces on Dread that he stops accepting Bitcoin Payments.
On May 8, the median transaction fee soared to just over $20, a figure not seen since Bitcoin’s first bull rush of 2021 when the price of BTC topped out at around $60,000. The Bitcoin mempool, where transactions are stored as they await confirmation, was clogged with over 160,000 transactions last week, with the highest fees paid being in the thousands of satoshis per byte. In comparison, transactions with fees of 3 sat/byte (less than $1) regularly confirmed in one or two blocks between Aug 2021 and Feb 2023.
Last week, the Bitcoin mempool topped out at over 160,000 transactions. Source: mempool.space
The rise in BTC transaction fees started in mid-February this year with the introduction of the Ordinals protocol. Although Ordinals has already been highly controversial due to its block space-consuming nature, introduction of the BRC20 tokenization standard – which makes use of Ordinals – has created an uproar among Bitcoin developers, maximalists and users in general. It is believed that the “minting” and transfer of BRC20 tokens accounted for the majority of Bitcoin transactions last week, crowding out transactions of regular Bitcoin users.
The efficient fee to get a transaction included in the next block has since fallen to around 33 sat/byte, which equates to $2-$3. Given the popularity of Ordinals and BRC20, it is likely that fees on the network will remain elevated in the foreseeable future, potentially even rising back to where they were earlier this month. It is for this reason that market admins and vendors insist Bitcoin-using holdouts make the switch to Monero, which is considered to be a far superior currency for privacy purposes, anyway.