Decentralized bitcoin-based platform, OpenBazaar, has launched its online P2P marketplace, following a month of testing period. The software is now available on the OpenBazaar website.
The first prototype of the marketplace, initially called DarkMarket, was created by the collective of bitcoin developers, including Amir Taaki, during the Toronto Bitcoin Expo Hackathon in 2014. It was designed as a proof of concept after the seizure of Silk Road in October 2013.
Later, a team of new developers, including Sam Patterson and Brian Hoffman, took charge of the project and rebranded it to OpenBazaar. In 2015, OpenBazaar secured $1 million in investment from Andreessen-Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, and angel investor William Mougayar, to develop the protocol.
Unlike other e-commerce platforms, OpenBazaar is not regulated by any organization. To start trading with each other, buyers and sellers need to just download and install the software. Moreover, users don’t have to pay any fees for using the platform.
The beta version of the marketplace had been downloaded more than 25,000 times by users from 126 countries. Traders posted over 3,000 listings to test the system.
“Trade was meant to be free. This idea inspired us to spend the last two years building OpenBazaar. Starting today, anyone in the world with access to an Internet connection can use Bitcoin and OpenBazaar to exchange goods and services freely. We can’t wait to see how people will use this tool,” Project leader, Brian Hoffman, said in a press-release.
Bitcoin is the only payment method available on the platform, used because of its decentralized nature and low fees.
The software still has some limitations, including inventory control, problems with search tool and offline stores. There is also an issue with anonymity, what means that malicious users can tie someone’s activity on the platform to the location of their physical internet connection.
In other areas, the team provided users with more control over their privacy. All information about the transactions between traders can be seen only by the parties of the deal. The system doesn’t require real identities of vendors, who can use pseudonyms to trade.
The developers, however, plan to improve the marketplace’s features, including its reputation system, and welcomes other people to help them solve the existing challenges.
The team behind the project believes OpenBazaar will fundamentally transform the e-commerce industry. Meantime, there is a threat that the platform will be used for illegal activity, which will be difficult to detect because of the decentralized nature of the system.