Almost two years ago, a group of Bitcoin developers, including Amir Taaki, developed an early prototype of a decentralized marketplace during the Toronto Bitcoin Expo Hackathon. The team behind the project, which also included developers from Airbitz, won the hackathon for their work on DarkMarket, but they had no intention of working on the concept once the expo was over.
Shortly after the creation of DarkMarket, a group of new developers, including Brian Hoffman and Sam Patterson, forked the project and rebranded it as OpenBazaar. Today, the first full version of OpenBazaar has been released on the project’s official website.
What’s in This First Release?
Although the first full version of OpenBazaar is now available, it does not come with all of the features that users will likely want to see in an online, decentralized marketplace. Having said that, all of the tools for launching an online store with essentially no upfront costs are now available when merchants combine Bitcoin with this new merchant platform.
In comments shared with Bitcoin Magazine, OpenBazaar Project Lead and OB1 CEO Hoffman described the features available in this first release:
“This version is complete from end to end to allow purchase of physical, digital goods and services either directly or moderated. It also allows you to rate your purchases and garner reputation on a basic level. It has an encrypted chat capability that we think will help users communicate more efficiently during trade as well.”
Although many media outlets have referred to OpenBazaar as a “decentralized Silk Road,” support for anonymizing networks, such as Tor, is not yet available out of the box. Hoffman recently explained the development team’s reasoning for leaving out this feature in the first release.
What Will Come Next?
This first version of the decentralized marketplace is bound to garner a large amount of support from day one, but there is still plenty of work to be done for the OpenBazaar development team. Hoffman told Bitcoin Magazine:
“The next steps will be to continue iterating on the current product and hit some of our most wanted list, which includes improving privacy and security of merchants as well as mobile and offline store support so that users don’t have to run their servers 24/7.”
Hoffman also stated that support for anonymizing networks and improvements to the reputation system will be coming soon.
Who Will Be the Early Adopters of OpenBazaar?
Hoffman said that most of the early users will likely be smaller merchants, perhaps selling Bitcoin-related products; however, the OB1 CEO added, “[We] hope to start accommodating larger merchants and we might have some additional surprises in the near future.”
OpenBazaar is now available for download on the project’s official website. Hoffman told Bitcoin Magazine he wanted to thank everyone who has been involved in the project in any way over the past year. He stated:
“The last thought I wanted to leave is that this has been a long time coming and we want to make sure everyone knows that this was a community effort that involved all those who worked on Bitcoin proper, built the DarkMarket proof of concept, and anyone else who contributed to the project financially or code-wise over that time. We thank everyone for their hard work!”
Kyle Torpey is a freelance journalist who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured on VICE Motherboard, Business Insider, NASDAQ, RT’s Keiser Report and many other media outlets. You can follow @kyletorpeyon Twitter.