OpenBazaar has been popular with the Bitcoin community for some time. The idea of a truly decentralized marketplace is truly innovative, and the platform has been serving the general public since April this year. There are many people selling a wide variety of items, and the team recently released its roadmap for the future.
More recently, developer Chris Pacia showed he had connected the platform to the Tor network while testing its 2.0 release. While this move made the cryptocurrency community happy, the implementation is not yet complete. The crew is in the midst of switching the project to IPFS, and this is key to Tor integration.
Bitcoin.com recently discussed OpenBazaar with Pacia, including recent developments and how the team is doing. Pacia told us how he got started coding, and when he got into cryptocurrency. We also discussed his personal opinions about Tor integration and current events in the Bitcoin environment.
Bitcoin.com (BC): Can you tell us how you got into programming, and how you got into Bitcoin?
Chris Pacia (CP): I started programming in high school. Back then I made programs to punt people off AOL. Sort of an early form of internet trolling.
But programming was mostly just a hobby, and I didn’t start doing it full time until I got into Bitcoin around 2012. My interest in Bitcoin is mostly driven by my political and economic views.
BC: How are things going with the OpenBazaar team?
CP: Great. The team is growing, and we’re making decent progress towards the goal of free trade on the internet.
BC: How have things been going as far as adoption and people using OpenBazaar?
CP: There is a lot of excitement for OpenBazaar. We see it everywhere we go. And we have a dedicated group of users who are using the app right now which we expect to grow substantially once the new version is released.
BC: Can you tell our readers about OpenBazaar’s upcoming Tor integration?
CP: Tor has always been the most requested feature by far. I always got a kick out of the Reddit users who would loudly proclaim, “OpenBazaar will NEVER use Tor!”
But it’s always been a bit of a technical challenge to implement. Integration is not as straightforward as other apps. Not only do we need to make the app programmatically configure itself as a hidden service, but we needed to build a custom onion transport for IPFS.
Jeromy from IPFS wrote a guide to implementing the transport interface when he wrote the websocket transport. That was pretty key to figuring it out. And also David Stainton took a first stab at the onion transport which I was able to collaborate on and make the necessary changes to get it functional.
It’s still kind of preliminary and there’s some cleanup needed on the IPFS side, but it shouldn’t be too much extra work from here to get it into OpenBazaar.
BC: Do you think when TOR becomes fully available there may be some black market activity?
CP: Well Tor is just a tool to give users more privacy. Like any tool, some people may use it for illegitimate purposes. I’m pretty sure some people will try to use it to sell illegal items on OpenBazaar, but that shouldn’t detract from the numerous legitimate use cases for both OpenBazaar and Tor.
BC: How do you feel about the current state of Bitcoin concerning development?
CP: I don’t speak for the OpenBazaar project, and I certainly can’t speak for the other team members, but myself personally, I’m not happy with it.
I feel like the developers have cultivated an incredibly toxic environment and have taken a ‘my way or the highway’ approach. It’s very unfortunate, and Bitcoin has suffered greatly because of it.
BC: Some people view Bitcoin as a “digital gold 2.0” settlement. Others would like to see it more as a distributed payment system. What’s your opinion on this subject?
CP: I can tell you what originally attracted me to Bitcoin. I believe that central banks have been incredibly destructive. Not only do they create recurring economic calamities by mismanaging the money supply, but a byproduct of their work is the systematic upward redistribution of wealth.
Historically when governments left the money supply alone, gold has out-competed everything to establish itself as money and provide a stable and fair economic foundation.
But the fatal flaw in gold is that it’s bulky and inconvenient to transact. So people have to create centralized infrastructure for transacting in gold. Infrastructure which the government finds very easy to regulate and shut down.
This is why gold has failed to provide any meaningful competition to central banks and why today it’s relegated to little more than a speculative investment asset.
Then along comes bitcoin and promises to have all the qualities of gold, but can be transmitted peer-to-peer in a way that governments find very difficult to stop.
And therein lies what I view as the world-changing potential of bitcoin. For the first time, we have a non-state controlled money that has the potential to provide meaningful competition to central banks.— But now we’re being told by some people that Bitcoin was never meant to be traded as money, and it’s just meant to be a digital version of modern gold — an asset that people don’t use as money but rather just hoard as a speculative investment asset.
And we’re told if you want to transact in Bitcoin, you have to use the same type of centralized infrastructure that made gold a failure.—Needless to say I fail to see anything world-changing in this vision.
Technical limitations need to weigh heavily, of course, and a balance needs to be struck, but I don’t believe the pure settlement system strikes the right balance.
BC: Besides the project you work with, are there any projects you are currently watching or very interested in?
CP: We’ve been working closely with the IPFS team. They’ve been great partners, and it’s a really awesome project. But there are many other exciting projects in this space with the potential to bring meaningful freedom to people.
BC: Where do you envision OpenBazaar in 10 years?
CP: It’s hard to say. I could see it totally blowing up and becoming very popular, or it could completely fail to gain mainstream traction and cease to exist. It could also find use cases aiding trade in very niche areas or within niche communities. I hope it’s the first option, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Thank you, Chris, for speaking with us and sharing your thoughts on Openbazaar and Bitcoin. Cheers.
What do you think about the Openbazaar project? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Openbazaar’s website, and Chris Pacia.
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