TradeRoute Market Review
TradeRoute Market is, like its darknet market peers, a site that sells drugs, digital goods, and other items on the Tor network. The difference, in this case, is that a team of coding (as in programming) experts created the site, for the apparent reason that they had tired of the fraud associated with many other markets.
TradeRoute Market URL:
Alternative Onion and non-Onion Links to Trade Route Market Channels and Trade Route Forum:
- Reset your TradeRoute Password: http://traderouteilbgzt.onion/reset.php
- TradeRoute Forum: http://ztzh2de6crfkdgtl.onion
- Most vendors use security escrow and multisig payments; FE only used in limited circumstances
- Offers two-factor authentication (2FA)
- Reduced transaction fees and sales commissions (ranges from 2%-5%)
- Intuitive user interface
- Specializes in digital goods
- Referral profit system
- Support always available
How to Access TradeRoute Market
As with most of the other major darknet markets, TradeRoute Market has a .onion URL, meaning it is hosted on the Tor network. Sites hosted on Tor must be accessed using the Tor Browser; we have a guide that goes into more detail about using it: How to Access .Onion Sites/Tor Sites.
While technically, you can access some .onion sites using a proxy, we do not recommend this, as it can compromise your anonymity (which would defeat the purpose of Tor).
Beyond just using Tor, you should be familiar with using PGP, a VPN service, and bitcoins.
PGP stands for “Pretty Good Privacy,” and is an encryption standard. While it is not exclusive to the dark web, it is frequently used on darknet markets like TradeRoute, especially for communicating between vendors and customers.
VPN stands for “virtual private network,” and provides a secure encrypted tunnel to transmit data over an unsecured network. There is some debate over whether using them is necessary, but if you have a VPN provider that is trustworthy and doesn’t keep logs, that’s a good option.
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that gives you the ability to make instant payments to anyone, and is the only currency accepted on TradeRoute Market. Most darknet markets accept bitcoin.
A bitcoin tumbler is a service used to disguise the source of bitcoin transactions, thus making them harder to trace. (It’s somewhat like the dark web version of money laundering.) Two good bitcoin tumbling services are Helix, by Grams, and BitBlender.
Signing up for a TradeRoute account is very simple, and should only take a few seconds to a few minutes (at the most). The only information you are required to give is a username, password, and PIN.
Following that, you need to select a currency, which will determine how the prices are displayed next to each product. You can choose from the following: US dollars (USD), euros (EUR), Australian dollars (AUD), Canadian dollars (CAD), New Zealand dollars (NZD), British pounds (GBP), or Swiss francs (CHF).
You may find it difficult to get the CAPTCHA correct (we initially had this issue), but try this: use only the bigger characters that appear, and ignore the smaller ones.
Once your registration is complete, you’ll receive a notification, and you can then go to the login screen. From there, process of logging in is much like on any other site simply type in your username and password.
NOTE: With regard to your username and password, avoid re-using the same password that you use on other sites, just for security purposes. Do the same with your PIN.
By default, when you register, you’ll have a buyer account (as is the case with many other markets). In order to become a seller, you’ll have to go to your account page, which is on the menu at the top of the homepage, or at this link: TradeRoute account settings.
When first becoming a vendor, you will be charged a fee of 100 USD. According to the owners of the site, this fee is used to prevent scammers from signing up as vendors on TradeRoute. (This may be one of the reasons that it has earned a good reputation thus far.)
Lest you think that it sounds unfair to have to pay 100 dollars to become a vendor, here’s the good news: once you successfully complete 100 sale transactions, you’ll have the money deposited back into your account. Plus, if you decide to close your vendor account, you’ll also have the money returned to you.
Another nice feature is that if you already have a positive reputation in other major markets (e.g. AlphaBay or Hansa), then you can get the 100 dollar fee waived. To do so, simply send a message to the TradeRoute admin and ask. (Of course, you will have to prove that you are the vendor you claim to be. This is what PGP is for.)
TradeRoute Account Interface and Functions
When you first log into TradeRoute, you can immediately get a very good idea of what the site has on sale, as well as its other functions.
On the main menu at the top of the page, you’ll see the following options: Shop, Messages, Orders, Account, Profile, and Logout.
- Shop: this link merely takes you back to the homepage, as does clicking the TradeRoute logo, so it’s somewhat redundant.
- Messages: this link takes you to the messaging form, which is very much like a standard email site. Here, you can send messages to the TradeRoute admins or support team. You can also search for other TradeRoute users with the “search” option on the left side of the page.
The search function only works, however, if you know the exact username of the person you want to contact. For example, let’s say the username was “Heisenberg.” You would have to type in that name exactly, with no errors. If you typed in “Heisenbert,” this message would appear:
By default, unless you type in the name of a specific user, your message will be sent to the TradeRoute admin. So be sure that you’re sending to the right person before you type in a message!
- Orders: This page makes the ordering process very simple. The menu, as you can see below, consists of the following options: New Orders, Accepted, Shipped, Finalized, Disputed, Canceled, and Unpaid.
Even compared to those of other major darknet markets, this ordering page is extremely helpful and organized.
- Account: On this page you can set up or change all of the settings related to your account. It has the following options: Deposit/Withdraw, Account Settings, Edit profile, and Become a Vendor.
Under the Deposit/Withdraw tab, you can deposit or withdraw bitcoins, as well as enter your multisignature public key. On Account settings, you can change your password or PIN, enable 2FA, change your display currency, or enter your multisig withdrawal bitcoin address and public key.
- Profile: Under this link, you’ll see how your profile appears to other users on the site. By default, the description reads, “The profile of [username] is under construction.” It will also display your public PGP key, which, by default, reads “The PGP key of [username] has not been set.” You also have the option to report a user from this page. You cannot, however, edit your profile from this page; in order to do so, you must go to the Account Settings page, and use the “Edit profile” option.
Fees, Commissions, and Referral Profits
TradeRoute charges transaction fees ranging from 5% to 2%. New users have to pay a 5% fee, which is gradually reduced to 2% as the user’s sales volume increases, or as her reputation improves.
As mentioned in the “Registration” section above, if you’re interested in having a vendor account, you need to pay a 100 USD fee. Be that as it may, a more accurate term for this “fee” would be “vendor deposit,” as this money will be credited back into your account after you complete 100 successful sales. (It’s very much like a security deposit on a new apartment.)
In addition to these features, TradeRoute offers a referral program that gives you a chance to receive 10% of the commissions the site makes for every transaction (2% to 5% of the transaction fee).
The referral URL is under the Account Settings tab on the Account page. Of course, as with the market itself, the referral URL is an onion site, so it is best to share it with people who already know how to use Tor. It is likely that the best places to promote your referral link are on darknet forums, or on websites dedicated to the subject of the dark web.
Categories and Listings
At the time this review was written, the site had 4380 listings, which is in an increase compared to some other recent reviews. Clearly, TradeRoute is growing. Still, its largest category, at the moment, is digital goods. The categories are broken down like this:
- Empathogens (259)
- MDMA (107)
- Pills (143)
- Methylone (0)
- MDA (0)
- Cannabis (611)
- Stimulants (482)
- Psychedelics (133)
- RC’s (18)
- Steroids (81)
- Prescription (166)
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Nootropics (5)
- Weight Loss (13)
- Dissociatives (24)
- Opiates (216)
- Paraphernalia (15)
- Digital Goods (2163)
- Guides and Tutorials
- Movies & TV Shows
- XXX Movies
- Forgeries (94)
- Driver Licenses
- ID’s & Passports
- Services (94)
Like most of its darknet market contemporaries, TradeRoute enforces some restrictions on items. Firearms, explosives, any type of item meant to harm others, child pornography, assassination services, and scamming are all prohibited.
TradeRoute’s listings are displayed in a grid format, with five columns. Each listing has a thumbnail image, vendor rating (0-5 stars), product name, price (in bitcoin and your preferred currency), and the vendor’s name and profile page link. In addition, there are active (green shield with a check mark icon) and FE (red alert icon) indicators on each listing.
There used to be shipping information displayed on the listings, but now you must click on the listing, and that information will be on the next page. This may have changed because the original display used abbreviations for the shipping locations, which might have confused some buyers.
TradeRoute Search and Search Filters
TradeRoute has a very basic search function above the listings. In addition, it also has a rather simple filtering system. You can sort your results by relevance to the search term (most relevant to least relevant), popularity (most popular to least popular), item rating (highest to lowest), price (lowest to highest or highest to lowest), and date (newest post to oldest, or oldest post to newest).
As opposed to other markets, this is not an exceptional search system. For example, you don’t have the option of using multiple search filters. Nonetheless, TradeRoute is still relatively new, so perhaps as more products become available, this will necessitate the creation of a more advanced search system.
How to Choose a Vendor
TradeRoute’s vendor profiles can provide quite a bit of useful information about each vendor, and help you in making the choice as to whether to use them or not.
Among the information is the status of the vendor (active), the date that they became a site member, the date that they last logged in, their role (“Vendor”), the number of sales they’ve completed, where the vendor ships from, and where they ship to.
Profiles may also give a good overall sense of the vendor in terms of reliability, as well as information about his policies and terms.
There is also a “Feedback” tab, in which buyers can leave their opinions about the goods they’ve bought, or just general experiences with the vendor.
As on other markets, your best choice for a vendor is one who has been active on the site for quite some time (according to the last login date), has lots of positive feedback from buyers, and reasonable sales terms and conditions. It’s also recommended that you don’t choose vendors who require you to finalize early (FE).
Of course, the profile page isn’t your only source of information; the TradeRoute forums can provide helpful feedback from other customers. Also, if the vendor is active on other markets, you can check those out and get a good overall picture of that vendor’s reputation.
Adding and Withdrawing Funds on TradeRoute
To add funds to your account, click on the bitcoin balance (which is in the upper right hand corner of the main page).
This takes you to the wallet page, where you can send bitcoins to the indicated deposit address (highlighted in green). It should look something like this:
Remember: the wallet address is only usable once, as it will change after each transaction (as a security measure). Deposits are estimated to be finished and will be reflected in your account within 1 to 2 hours.
Withdrawing funds is easy: simply enter your bitcoin wallet address, the amount you wish to withdraw, and your PIN. Like the deposits, withdrawal transactions take 1-2 hours to be confirmed. The minimum withdrawal amount is 0.001 BTC. Note: every withdrawal transaction requires a fee of 0.0005 BTC, which is automatically deducted from the amount you withdraw.
Ordering goods from TradeRoute is also relatively straightforward. Go to the page of whatever item you want to order, and select a shipment method from the dropdown menu, as well as the quantity of the item you want. After that’s complete, click on the “Buy” button.
On the next screen, enter your shipping address and send payment to the multisig bitcoin address that flashes onscreen during the payment process.
TradeRoute makes use of two features that have proven to help prevent scams, namely security escrow and multisignature (multisig) payments. Vendors only receive the funds upon delivery of the purchased item.
The market uses a 2-of-3 multisig payment system, meaning that there are three keys involved. The first is for the buyer, the second is for the vendor, and the third is for TradeRoute. When the buyer actually receives the item, she can sign the bitcoin transaction to have the money released to the vendor. In this case, it is assumed that the vendor has already signed the transaction, so two signatures would already be present.
In instances where the buyer does not finalize the order, or doesn’t correspond with the vendor or with Trade Route within a reasonable period of time to verify that the product has been delivered, Trade Route can intercede and sign off on the bitcoin transaction so that the funds will be sent to the vendor.
Oddly enough, Trade Route still allows vendors that do FE sales. This seems contradictory, given that there are so many security systems in place, and that TR places such a high emphasis on their anti-scam system.
Products that are FE only are marked with an exclamation point, like this:
TradeRoute Market Support
TradeRoute offers 24/7 customer support through its ticket support system. If you have questions, complaints, or help requests, then click on the support link in the bottom right corner of the site.
In addition, TradeRoute has an official forum for its users, if they need further help or just want to speak with other users of the site. The previous forum link, http://ztzh2de6crfkdgtl.onion/, has been replaced with this one: http://tradeforumzkw4bk.onion/. Nonetheless, even if you were to click the old forum link, you would be redirected to the current one.
Pros and Cons
- Organized, user-friendly site design and layout
- Offers 2-of-3 multisig and escrow payments
- Excellent quantity and variety of goods
- Features 24/7 support through ticket system
- 100 USD fee required to upgrade to vendor account
- Limited search functions
- Still uses FE system for certain vendors, in spite of objecting to it
- Somewhat limited number of vendors (though the number is increasing)
TradeRoute Market, though it is somewhat new, has a wide variety of items and seems to have a good system in place to prevent scams. It also rewards its successful vendors with commissions and referral profits.