OpenBazaar, frequently dubbed the decentralized eBay or Amazon, has released a beta version of the platform on the Testnet.
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OpenBazaar: The ‘Decentralized eBay’
Senior developers have invited the community to begin using the service in order to iron out bugs and other issues, with the official announcement being made on Twitter earlier today:
OpenBazaar will initially run on Testnet coins, leading to experiments such as one store operator writing to Reddit users offering to make purchases on their behalf. In future, Bitcoin will be the operative currency for purchases.
“After we’re confident of the stability and functionality of the product, we’ll transition to the main net and OpenBazaar will be open for business,” developers wrote in a blog post supporting the release.
OpenBazaar’s unveiling is the culmination of a process begun in April 2014. Originally presented as DarkMarket, lead developer Brian Hoffmann oversaw a fork of the original and created a parent operation known as OB1. Developers have stated that the goal is to create a decentralized alternative to the marketplace giants including eBay.
With a decentralized marketplace, OpenBazaar represents a popular movement. A so-called ‘killer app’ for Bitcoin has often been speculated to be a one-stop shop, incorporating online purchases with remittances and other services.
However, the OpenBazaar model meanwhile has not been left without criticism. Security concerns regarding seller obligations have been raised in response to rival service BitMarkets introducing peer-to-peer escrow, enabling greater security for buyer and seller and decreasing the risk of fraudlent activity.
Such activity is a potential headache for proponents of decentralized marketplaces, in light of the public shutdown of Silk Road and its intrinsic link with Bitcoin and “anonymous” activity.
Nonetheless, Hoffmann’s product has already received mainstream attention, specifically governing its ability to compete with Amazon.
“… [I]t will be interesting to see how much traction [OpenBazaar] gets out of the gate,” IR.net wrote in an analysis last month. “While Amazon.com, Inc. […] won’t lose business to this new platform any time soon, the future implications of OpenBazaar could be staggering.”
Anonymity in vogue
The move comes as advances are being made in other decentralized products. Play, a new torrent service unveiled this week, is attempting to utilize peer-to-peer network Zeronet to make its content “un-shutdownable” – a problem which has continually dogged the likes of BitTorrent and PirateBay in various jurisdictions.
P2P hosted content which would otherwise be blocked on copyright grounds presents a potential gray area for law enforcement, Torrentfreak notes in an article on Play’s release.
“[W]hile someone, somewhere has created Play, its users (not a server company) are now effectively hosting it via their local machines,” it wrote. “This raises questions of liability for torrent site hosting in the future.”
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Images courtesy of OpenBazaar