Why Is Decentralization Important?

Why Is Decentralization Important?


In a recent post we talked about how “decentralization is guiding the ship.” While the definition of the word can be guessed easily enough, the concept is nuanced and takes some time to understand the costs and benefits of decentralization.

Decentralization is a concept in politics, business, technology, and other fields. In a nutshell, it means a central authority doesn’t have control over a system, but control is distributed among the participants in the system. For example:

  • A centralized political system has a central authority with most (or all) of the power. In a decentralized political system the power rests closer to the individual or their representatives.
  • A centralized business structure has a central authority with most (or all) the power. In a decentralized business structure the power to make decisions is distributed between individuals and teams.

There are costs and benefits to these approaches in political and business settings.

The centralized approach allows for more rapid and decisive decision-making, as well as giving participants in the system a sense of clarity about the rules and their own role within it. It also sets up a structure to enforce those rules.

Unfortunately, this also highlights one of the primary drawbacks of centralized systems: what if the central authority acts in ways that are harmful to the participants in the system? There are innumerable examples of tyrannical governments abusing their power. There are also many examples of the leadership teams of companies making poor decisions and refusing to delegate power such that their decisions destroyed the company.

Decentralization avoids the abuse of power from central authorities. However, this comes at the cost of every participant taking on some responsibility themselves.

When we speak about OpenBazaar being decentralized, we are specifically referring to the architecture of the network itself. There is no central point of control in OpenBazaar, unlike Amazon or eBay. All participants in the network have equal power and can’t be forced by anyone else to do anything. This is radically different from the standard centralized model of ecommerce, and it has both costs and benefits.

Making trade free is the purpose of OpenBazaar. Decentralization is the method OpenBazaar uses to make trade free.

Beyond just being able to use cryptocurrencies easily, decentralization is what allows for all of the other benefits of the marketplace, such as:

  • There are no fees to use the platform
  • There is no central authority collecting data
  • There is no central authority able to take down a store or force a user to follow their terms and conditions
  • Users have total control of all of their trade

Centralized marketplaces can’t offer these guarantees because their revenue models require that they do things to impose on users in one or all of these areas.

  • If they didn’t charge fees, they’d need to monetize with user data
  • If they didn’t want to monetize user data, they’d need to charge fees
  • If they didn’t censor transactions and take down stores, they’d be forced to do so by governments (or be shut down themselves)

There’s really no possible way to run a permissionless marketplace unless it’s based on decentralized architecture.

On the internet, everything you see is based on files that “live” on a server somewhere. A server is just a name for another computer. Most servers are owned (or rented) by the central authority than runs the website you’re visiting, usually a company. When you use Amazon for shopping, you are connecting to Amazon’s servers, just like everyone else using Amazon. This is a centralized system.

Centralized computer to server diagram

Centralized computer to server network diagram


The decentralized system – like OpenBazaar – means computers aren’t connecting to a central location. They connect directly to each other. Basically, each user becomes their own server.


Decentralized computer to computer, or peer-to-peer, diagram

Decentralized computer to computer, or peer-to-peer, network diagram


This is one of the costs of using a decentralized system. Each participant in a decentralized system takes on some of the power that the centralized authority would normally have, which leads to the benefits mentioned above. It also means that they will have to take extra steps they wouldn’t need to take in a centralized system. In a decentralized political or business structure, this might mean people are forced to direct themselves instead of just taking orders. Their success or failure is then dependent on their own actions instead of the decisions of the central authority.

In a decentralized network, it means the participants need to be running the program themselves on their computer instead of relying on the central authority to do that for them. In OpenBazaar version 1.0, this meant users would need to run the software 24/7 in order to engage in trade with other people on the network. In the upcoming version 2.0, we have built on IPFS, allowing stores to go offline and still be available to other users if their store has been seeded. Even though this reduces the costs for users to access OpenBazaar, it’s still not as convenient as using the centralized ecommerce options.

Every user must weigh the costs and benefits of the different systems and determine which they prefer.

Centralized systems are abundant and widely used for ecommerce today. A usable decentralized ecommerce system didn’t exist until OpenBazaar, and for those that prefer it, we welcome them.


Are you ready to check it out?

Download OpenBazaar
Join us on Slack, Twitter or Facebook



Read More

10 Great Father’s Day Gifts on OpenBazaar

10 Great Father's Day Gifts You Can Buy with Bitcoin on OpenBazaar


OpenBazaar has what you need for the crypto-loving dad in your life–AND/OR to put your favorite coin into action as the crypto-evangelist that you are!

Check out these items & note a quick pro tip: before you make a purchase make sure you choose a good moderator and if shipping is needed, read the shipping details to see if you can get your items shipped in time from the seller’s location.

10 Great Father’s Day Gifts on OpenBazaar


Wooden Fidget Spinner on OpenBazaarFor the fidgeter
Wooden fidget spinner: View // Buy on OpenBazaar
0.002 BTC




Swiss Army Knife on OpenBazaarFor the multitasker
Swiss army knife: View // Buy on OpenBazaar
0.017 BTC




Apartment for Rent BnB in Barcelona Spain on OpenBazaarFor the world traveler
Apartment for rent in Barcelona, Spain: View // Buy on OpenBazaar
0.040 BTC




All natural handmade beard oil on OpenBazaarFor the beardly man
All-natural, handmade beard oil: View // Buy on OpenBazaar
0.010 BTC




Orange Bitcoin Tee on OpenBazaarFor the Bitcoin enthusiast
Orange Bitcoin tee: View // Buy on OpenBazaar
0.024 BTC




Deadpool Merc with a Mouth 12 Marvel Comics on OpenBazaarFor the comic collector
Pretty much anything from CryptoCollectibles: View // Buy on OpenBazaar
BTC varies




The Internet of Money by Andreas M. Antonopoulos on OpenBazaarFor the crypto-newbie
The Internet of Money book: View // Buy on OpenBazaar
0.006 BTC




Hand Crafted Wooden Ring - with Lepidolite Inlay on OpenBazaarFor the artful accessorizer
Hand Crafted Wooden Ring:  View // Buy on OpenBazaar
0.041 BTC




Handcrafted leather money clip with two pockets for cards on OpenBazaarFor the tasteful organizer
Handmade leather wallet: View // Buy on OpenBazaar
0.034 BTC




5.5mm 6 LED Endoscope Waterproof Borescope Inspection Camera For Android Phone and Tablets on OpenBazaarFor the guy who has it all:
LED Endoscope Waterproof Borescope Inspection Camera: View // Buy on OpenBazaar
0.005 BTC




Ready to shop?
Download OpenBazaar and check it out!

Would you like to have a store on OpenBazaar?
Becoming a vendor is easy and completely free! Check out our Vendor’s Guide to OpenBazaar


Read More

OpenBazaar’s Bigger Picture in The Bitcoin Debates

OpenBazaar's Bigger Picture in the Bitcoin Debates


You could get whiplash trying to track the what’s-what and the who’s-who of Bitcoin. Just as the value is regularly breaking records now the debates are hotter than ever over the future of this blockchain that spawned a thousand blockchains.

No doubt Bitcoin is an important development in technology–some would say as important as the internet itself. Many also liken the energy around it to the time when the internet was developing for users and forward-thinkers knew it would be big, but not yet what all it could actually do. Now we can see the tools it birthed such as email and mobile and today we can see the impact those things have had.

We know enough about it now to know that it’s a pretty big deal but the questions of why, how and for whom still hang in our digital air.

How is a company who wants to build applications that use Bitcoin supposed to keep up?

Bitcoin is still king in this space but it is just the beginning of a huge new way of connecting, creating and sharing value online. It represents, we believe, the advent of a new internet. And that vision sparks technology which, in turn, sparks more vision.

Or as, allegedly, Marshall McLuhan stated in 1967:

“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”

The initial vision for Bitcoin was simply a peer-to-peer digital currency that would allow people to exchange payments without middlemen. Now it’s spawned many offshoots that are basically ideological playgrounds for what this sort of public ledger technology can really do. Each of these now are like puzzle pieces, microorganisms that are co-evolving in technology much like they do in nature.

We have experienced this personally with OpenBazaar where a new file storage protocol that didn’t materially exist just 3 years ago emerged with incredible implications for the protocol that we had built around that time. The choice to build version 2.0 on IPFS was pretty easy as it was an exact piece that was missing from our own puzzle. But it wasn’t shoved in the couch cushions, it simply didn’t exist yet. And that is awesome. It resulted in a lot of new work but we didn’t begrudge it. We transitioned with excitement and anticipation because we know why we’re doing what we’re doing.

We keep up by focusing on the bigger picture.

OpenBazaar is a marketplace that makes it easy for users to exchange goods and services for a cryptocurrency. And as the name itself implies, we believe in cryptocurrencies that can be used as a currency, a medium of everyday types of purchases.

We believe this because we want to live in a world with fewer barriers. We want to see a world where people can build what they want and where beautiful things happen when their work and tools overlap and complement one another. We believe in people making choices for themselves and taking ownership and control of what they do.

From code to lifestyle, we want to create tools that provide access, tools that allow everyone to figure out the kind of life they’d like to build, from wherever they are in the world.

Right now the path we need is paved with Bitcoin, which we love continue to champion, but it’s really about the vision of what Bitcoin represents–not the specific technology. Bitcoin may fail, but decentralization is guiding the ship for us.

We believe in faster, cheaper, better technology that connects more people with fewer barriers.

The only way through is through. That means boots-on-the-ground, roll-up-the-sleeves through. If you’re curious what the future looks like, then build it with us.


A free marketplace. No fees. No restrictions. Earn bitcoin.
Download OpenBazaar



Read More

Consensus 2017 — The Immediate Future of Bitcoin & ICO Madness

Times Square


Wow, what a wild week it has been! Between attending the blockchain industry’s biggest event and the skyrocketing prices of just about every cryptocurrency — especially Bitcoin — capped with a holiday weekend, we are still reeling. We are all back at our desks though and finally had a chance to unpack some of our thoughts about CoinDesk’s annual event, Consensus, in beautiful New York City!


10,000 Foot View

First, the event was huge. Tickets were sold out and almost 3,000 people were in attendance across 4-5 floors. Speakers & panels were often down to standing room only and some great topics were covered like Can Bitcoin Scale? and Chasing Privacy in Blockchains among many other discussions & presentations on the business & technical applications of blockchain.

Second, you couldn’t help but realize that cryptocurrencies besides Bitcoin are gaining fast in their validity and tokens/Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) may still be controversial, but they are big business at the moment with a lot of money to show for it. Everyone was interested in learning about ICO case studies and their future as a serious business model beneath the looming cloud of regulation.

Third, it seems that Bitcoin still has some battles ahead of it still as miners, developers and users continue to wrestle with the best way to scale it. Fundamentally it will come down to the question of defining what BTC really is—a currency or a security — either by declaration or action.
We have our own thoughts about this and were also excited to soft launch a new campaign we are working on as the OB1 team to share them. Check out Crypto Is Currency Day coming up this September and join us if you believe in the mission of digital currencies we can actually acquire & spend easily & efficiently.

Getting Personal

To conclude, we also wanted to share few other exciting thing that were shared by some of our excellent partners at the event!


Prism is a new service from Shapeshift that uses Ethereum to allow users to invest in a basket of cryptocurrencies of their choosing. In their words, “Prism is a platform upon which humans and machines can acquire exposure to portfolios of digital assets without trusting a counterparty.” We think non-custodian exchanges like this is a big step in the right direction to protect users and provide more privacy and security to traders. More details here

Protocol Labs

Protocol Labs, the company behind IPFS, teamed up with AngelList to create a new platform for token sales, called CoinList. We’re interested to see more of their work here which is aiming to legitimize crowdfunding crypto projects through ICOs within the United States and providing opportunities for them to stay here instead of moving offshore. More details here

Next, we are proud to announce our newest partnership with Digital Currency Group (DCG) as a strategic investor! This is very exciting for us as DCG is the most active investor and business incubator in the bitcoin and blockchain industry and they share a vision for the future of commerce where digital currencies are more accessible and usable for everyone. See our press release for more information.

Finally, for more of our thoughts on the event, check out this brief YouTube Live video we recorded this week with another partner of ours, Jeremy, CEO of Never Stop Marketing.

We are really energized by the members of our community who are working hard to build the financial future they want to see and we are privileged to be working with them. It’s really a gift to be surrounded by smart, driven people who are building excellent products and companies and we can’t wait to tell you more about the irons we have in the fire with them soon!

Are you a developer who wants to get involved in this early stage of Version 2.0 development?
Get the details here!

Want to start RIGHT NOW buying and selling with Bitcoin or other altcoins using Version 1.0?
Download OpenBazaar

Read More

Milestone 2 Developer Release for OpenBazaar v2.0

Development of the OpenBazaar 2.0 software continues according to our roadmap, and today we publish the Milestone 2 developer release. Please note that this release is not yet feature complete, and cannot be used for real transactions yet.

Milestone 2 focuses on discoverability of listings / stores, as well as communication. Third party search is now accessible within the client. Chat is also fully functional. Channels were planned for Milestone 2, but have been moved to later in development. Full release notes below.


Search in v2 client

Release notes

Server changes:

  • Added wallet tests. Made profile caching smarter. Various bug fixes.

Client changes:


  • The transactions screen is now viewable with partial functionality.


  • The purchasing screen is now viewable with partial functionality.

Context Menu

  • The context menu will now appear on a right click.
  • The context menu has commands for zooming the screen in and out.
  • The screen can also be zoomed in and out using the keyboard (command or control plus – or =).


  • The message button in the moderator details screen is now functional.

Default User Name

  • The default user name is now a shorter random string of characters.


  • Transactions are shown as confirmed on the 6th confirmation now, instead of the 7th.


  • The profile now uses a local url instead of a ipns url.

Cached Profiles

  • A new functionality was added to use cached profile data in situations were it is not critical that the data be fresh. This has been implemented in the chat sidebar.

Bug Fixes

  • A bug where radio buttons were not always sized the same was fixed. #434
  • A bug that caused the QR code in about/donate to be horizontally compressed was fixed. #433
  • The contentBox style was set to break and wrap very long words so they would not extend past their container. #396
  • A bug was fixed where old profiles were identified as moderators, but did not have moderation data.
  • The handling of emojis was made more flexible and consistent.
  • The QR code in the wallet is now correct.
  • The sort by drop down in search now works correctly.
  • Layout bugs with the filter labels and emojis in the search screen were fixed.
  • A bug where the categories parameter in a store page can be null was fixed.
  • A bug with routing to a listing address was fixed.
  • The server name is now shown correctly in the page navigation menu. #454


Are you a developer who wants to get involved in this early stage of Version 2.0 development?
Get the details here!

Want to start RIGHT NOW buying and selling with Bitcoin or other altcoins using Version 1.0?
Download OpenBazaar

Read More

OpenBazaar 2.0 – New Developer Release – 2.0.3


This is the third release according to our new schedule of publishing releases on a two week sprint cycle. As a reminder, these releases are for developers and those looking to test only; the product is not ready for real transactions yet!

Yesterday we released a new developer release – version 2.0.3 – of OpenBazaar. Here is a brief overview of the new features available:

Back End:

  • We’ve done some housecleaning, making the code more consistent and robust.
  • The ability to use images for variants was added. This is not yet supported in the reference client.
  • An API was added to get an estimate of the fee for a transaction.
  • An API was added to get the estimated total for a transaction.
  • Accepted currency was added to the moderator information.
  • The listing format was updated to return an object instead of an array.
  • Endpoints were added to get the avatar and header of a user via their peerID.

Wallet in Version 2.0.3 of OpenBazaar

Front End:

  • Search has been added to the reference client. It defaults to use the OB1 search service (this can be changed in the user’s settings).
  • The wallet can now send and receive funds. Make sure to set your node to use the testnet if you use the wallet.
  • The wallet will show a list of your transactions now.
  • Various bugs were fixed.


Are you a developer who wants to get involved in this early stage of Version 2.0 development?
Get the details here!

Want to start RIGHT NOW buying and selling with Bitcoin or other altcoins using Version 1.0?
Download OpenBazaar

Read More

The Inclusive Future of Payment Types in OpenBazaar

The Inclusive Future of Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, Altcoin and other Payment Types in OpenBazaar


OpenBazaar is committed to making global peer-to-peer decentralized ecommerce happen.

We believe in making trade free for everyone, everywhere. Achieving this mission will only happen if we’re adaptable and willing to honestly assess whether or not the technologies we use are helping us to fulfill our mission, or holding us back.

For payment technology, OpenBazaar currently uses Bitcoin for transactions within the marketplace. Bitcoin is the most recognized, most secure, and most used cryptocurrency available today. It allows OpenBazaar to exist without the need to rely on third parties. There are many other cryptocurrencies available as well but the OpenBazaar protocol and software is being built by a small group of individuals and we have chosen to keep our scope reasonable by focusing purely on Bitcoin.

However, for various reasons, we do believe OpenBazaar should be able to support multiple types of payment methods.

It’s possible that Bitcoin may not always be the king of cryptocurrencies. Other cryptocurrencies may surpass it, or they might be more suited for the types of transactions that OpenBazaar users need.

There is a considerable amount of excitement from other coin communities to support their projects through OpenBazaar. We’re optimistic about what they have to offer as we think decentralized payment choices should be diverse and ultimately in the hands of users.

We will do everything we can to support the flexibility needed to enable this functionality in a way that doesn’t sacrifice any of the core tenets of our project. This includes additional documentation on how other currencies can be integrated by coin developers. We will continue to have discussions with the community on how best to create a strong user experience with multiple wallets and coins.

Want to get more involved?

If you are interested in what the development process of integrating your favorite coin into the OpenBazaar network would involve, click here for more information: github.com/OpenBazaar/openbazaar-go/blob/master/docs/altcoins.md

If you’re interested in staying up to date with new developments related to altcoin integrations, please email our Community Manager, Jenn Cloud, at jenn[at]ob1.io and for general updates related to OpenBazaar please subscribe to the OB1 newsletter at ob1.io



Read More

OpenBazaar 2.0 – New Developer Release – 2.0.2

This is the second release according to our new schedule of publishing releases on a two week sprint cycle. As a reminder, these releases are for developers and those looking to test only; the product is not ready for real transactions yet!


Yesterday we released a new developer release – version 2.0.2 – of OpenBazaar. Here is a brief overview of the new features available:

Back End:

Most of the recent work was dedicated to wallet stability.


OpenBazaar 2.0.2 Developer Release Wallet Screengrab


Front End:

The following improvements were made to the wallet interface (*Note that the wallet is not yet functional and shouldn’t be used to send money):

1. Shows the current balance in the wallet
2. Shows the number of transactions in the wallet (WIP)
3. Non-functional, unfinished Send Money panel
4. Non-functional, unfinished Receive Money panel
5. The current price of bitcoin in your fiat currency is shown


Are you a developer who wants to get involved in this early stage of Version 2.0 development?
Get the details here!

Want to start RIGHT NOW buying and selling with Bitcoin or other altcoins using Version 1.0?
Download OpenBazaar

Read More

Development Update: Spring Cleaning

The Milestone 1 developer release of OpenBazaar 2.0 is available and Milestone 2 will be released in early April!

Here is a recap of the capabilities of the Milestone 1 release:

Milestone 1 Summary

This release is meant solely for developers and those building or intending to build on top of the OpenBazaar platform. You can read more about what the release entails here.

Since this is a release meant for development, the functions available in Milestone 1 are very minimal. They include:

  • Users can download and install the client and server from Github, and use it to fill in their profile, store info, and post listings
  • The network can host listings, stores, and user profiles
  • Users can follow and unfollow


Here is what’s been happening in the OpenBazaar development universe so far in March:

Version 2.0

  • Managing a variety of pull requests (PRs)
  • Small patches and changes on the front and back end
  • OB1 Co-Founder Dr. Washington Sanchez has secret project that has been turning out way better than he expected. Make sure you bug him on Twitter to try to get more information out of him on this one.

OpenBazaar Version 2.0 Website Homepage Design


  • Development of the new OpenBazaar.org website is almost complete
  • Settling into our new project management system to be able to pin down & announce a full release date for Version 2.0
  • Interviewing for a new front end development role
  • Getting healthy as some of our team has been dealing with various winter illnesses. Good thing spring will be here next week!


Are you a developer who wants to get involved in this early stage of Version 2.0 development?
Get the details here!

Want to start RIGHT NOW buying and selling with Bitcoin using Version 1.0?
Download OpenBazaar


Read More

An Established Brand Meets New eCommerce Technology

BMW M Power Store on OpenBazaar

In these posts we take a look at some unique members of the OpenBazaar ecosystem and share their stores. In this post we are exploring a store that boasts a brand you may already know called BMW. Yes, like the cars! But no, while cars could be sold through OpenBazaar, they aren’t here at the moment, but you can get some great promotional items available in BMW M Power Store. You can check it out in your browser or on OpenBazaar here.

The owner of this store is choosing to remain anonymous but still took the time to share about their experience and what’s motivated them to sell on OpenBazaar!

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you make/sell?

I live in Munich, Germany but originally I was born in Bulgaria. I own a BMW sports car and I am a big fan of the brand. I work in a branch of BMW Group in Munich and use OpenBazaar to promote the brand as well.

How familiar are you with Bitcoin?

I believe Bitcoin is the invention of our generation and is the next big thing after the Internet.I am not a tech guy so I don’t have much to say about development but I do support this technology as much as I can. I use it as payment when possible, just some small transactions in order to show my support, and I use to trade it against some alts in an exchange. I am not very familiar with trading so I don’t do this much, though.

Most of all, I am person who doesn’t support the power of governments and banks over people so any chance I have in life to disrupt the System I embrace with love :) Peer 2 Peer trading and for sure Bitcoin are two things that allow me to do this in a practical way.

How did you find out about OpenBazaar?

I first read about it on Twitter and thought I’d give a shot!

Why are you selling your product on OpenBazaar?

I use Bitcoin in my daily life, I am a fan of BMW, and I support the anti-bank and agorism movements. Those 3 things combine perfectly in OpenBazaar!

How has your experience been with OpenBazaar so far?

I don’t earn anything for myself by selling the BMW items that I do in OpenBazaar, I just do it for the pleasure of promoting the brand and promoting the use of Bitcoin. The OB community is very wise and so far any small issues that I have had are resolved quickly and easy by the members in Slack! OB1 Co-Founder Dr. Washington Sanchez has also helped me a lot running my nodes and I really appreciate the personal care.


Would you like to have a store on OpenBazaar?

Becoming a vendor is easy and completely free! Check out our Vendor’s Guide to OpenBazaar

Would you like your store to be featured on our blog?
Awesome, we’d love to know your story! Please email jenn@ob1.io


Read More