New Version 2.0 Development Release Schedule

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OpenBazaar version 2.0 development continues, and we’ve decided to change our development release schedule. Previously we posted our roadmap which contained various milestones where we would create developer releases for people to test new functionality. We’re still keeping the milestones, and will still publish releases when we reach each new milestone, but in order to get more frequent testing and community feedback we’ll also be publishing developer builds every two weeks. We develop based on two week sprint periods, so at the end of each sprint we’ll release a new build for people to test.

Yesterday was the last day of our current sprint, and so we’re releasing the first build – version 2.0.1 – under this new schedule. Note that these are developer builds which are meant to be used for testing only. You can find the latest build here.

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OpenBazaar at HCPP16

Earlier this year I was invited to be a speaker and present OpenBazaar at this year’s Hacker’s Congress at Paralelní Polis (HCPP16) in Prague. I’ve never been to Prague, and hadn’t visited Paralelní Polis yet, so I was excited to attend.

If you’re not familiar with Paralelní Polis, they’re an organization of hackers and artists in the Czech Republic who condemn authoritarian governments and use digital activism to make people more free. This year’s Hacker’s Congress described itself as having “hundreds of technology enthusiasts, tech-entrepreneurs, activists and cryptoanarchists to celebrate the age of digital freedom and decentralization!”

You can’t miss the Paralelní Polis building in Prague; it’s completely black. The bottom floor is a coffee shop that only accepts Bitcoin, and the other floors were turned into rooms for presentations over the weekend.

Paralelní Polis Building

 

I spoke on the last day about OpenBazaar. Here’s the summary of my talk:

Existing commerce online is centralized by a handful of companies who monitor data, censor trade, and use tightly controlled payment systems. OpenBazaar is an open source software project which creates a decentralized network for trade, using Bitcoin. Because OpenBazaar removes the middleman, there are no fees, there is no censorship, and there is no mass collection of data. This talk explains the project’s history, how it works technically, and how future changes will further enhance decentralization and censorship-resistance.

I focused quite a bit on the improvements that are coming in the 2.0 version of OpenBazaar. The audience was great and asked lots of questions, and we ran out of time, but fortunately I was able to follow up a lot of conversations with people afterwards.

Presenting OB at HCPP16
Presenting OB at HCPP16

Immediately following my presentation was a talk by Justin Drake of Duo Money, the company behind the OpenBazaar search engine Duo Search. Justin’s talk was about being an entrepreneur on OpenBazaar:

OpenBazaar is an open-innovation decentralised protocol for trade. Unlike proprietary marketplaces like eBay or AirBnb it presents many opportunities for entrepreneurs to build upon. Justin will give an overview of the fledging OpenBazaar ecosystem, focusing on the opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs.

He talked about his experience building Duo Money, which originally was meant to be a payment and HTTP gateway to the OpenBazaar network, but that plan was dashed when they lost their banking partner – only days before OB launched! They quickly pivoted to building a search engine, and only weeks later launched Duo Search. He made the point that relying on permissioned systems like banks stifles innovation, but building on an open system like OB or Bitcoin allows for permissionless innovation. Justin also gave tips for people looking to build in the OB ecosystem, as well as giving business ideas for aspiring entrepreneurs as well, both of which he turned into blog posts.

Justin Drake of Duo Money Presenting at HCPP16
Justin Drake of Duo Money Presenting at HCPP16

 

HCPP16 was a great place to meet with people and talk about all different types of new decentralization technologies, and quite a few people had ideas on how their project and OpenBazaar could compliment each other. I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in decentralization technology, and using new tech in order to make people more free, should learn more about Paralelní Polis and attend next year’s Hacker’s Congress.

After the conference I was able to do some Prague sightseeing. It’s a beautiful city. I enjoyed my trip to HCPP16 and Prague, and hope to attend next year.

IMAG0492

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OpenBazaar Ecosystem: Psychedelic Rock Band Myco

 In these posts we take a look at some unique members of the OpenBazaar ecosystem. Today we interview Kyle from the band Myco, which released their new EP exclusively on OpenBazaar for the first week. You can find the Myco store on OpenBazaar, and on Duosearch as well.

 
Tell us a bit about yourself? 
 
My name is Kyle Henry, I’m from Kansas City and started Myco in 2015 after moving back to Kansas City from Hong Kong, where I lived between 2013 and 2015 and taught English as my primary job.

Before moving to Hong Kong I studied botany and mycology and discovered how amazing fungus really is. It is essentially the backbone of ecological systems on land and acts as a decentralized network or internet for organisms on the earth. Plants and fungus form symbiotic relationships and communicate through these fungal networks.

A few years later after I had begun my scientific studies I got involved with bitcoin in 2011 when I started mining them with my GPU. The next year it became pretty much impossible to do so, but I mined about 15 before that happened. While in Hong Kong I continued promoting and using bitcoin and talking to Hong Kong natives about it where ever I went. I found that many people in the tech field there were already aware of bitcoin but most weren’t involved in it. While living there I used bitcoin to transfer money between my bank accounts in the US and Hong Kong. Instead of paying ridiculous fees to do such a thing through my bank I used exchanges and often made a profit when transferring funds.

I ended up moving back to Kansas city in 2015 and started on my project. I’ve been a musician since I was about 14 and I had never officially released anything but music is my passion so I set out to make a project that embodied my beliefs of everything being interconnected and how decentralization and specifically blockchain technology can free us from our slavery.  After writing and recording everything I set out to find band members to play live shows and I’ve gone through many members but eventually asked a good friend of mine Andrew MacIntyre to play drums for me. Then I found an amazing guitarist named Jesse Rodriguez and a bassist named Cory Yeager online who have helped me complete this project.

Myco Band OpenBazaar Store

The first song we released is called “Myceliated” and is essentially about fungus and the effect it has on the universe and the human experience as well as decentralization and how bitcoin can end wars. We released this single with a bitcoin qr code on the cover and had a tremendous response from the bitcoin community. We also put a digital download of this song on OpenBazaar once OpenBazaar went public. Months later after a lot of practice the band is ready to start playing shows and we decided to release our debut 5 song EP exclusively on OpenBazaar on September 22 2016 to show our support for decentralization and freedom. The self titled EP will be released globally on most music platforms in fiat currencies on September 26 2016, but we prefer being paid directly in bitcoin.
 
What do you make / sell?

 

Original psychedelic rock music.

 

Why are you selling your product on OpenBazaar?

 

We want to support innovative platforms that make free trade and liberty possible in this ever increasing statist world.

 

How has your experience been with OpenBazaar so far?

 

Openbazaar and it’s community has been great to us so far, we have heard nothing but praise from those who have purchased our music and if we have need help with setting anything up or doing anything on OpenBazaar there has always been incredibly helpful people.

 

What changes would you like to see to OpenBazaar to make it more useful for you?

 

I would love to see a feature that allows us to setup a digital download automatically so we don’t have to manually enter everything for every single order. Also, I think it would be great if there were anonymity features built in for other users.. this I believe would push OpenBazaar into the mainstream as it would allow for free trade without the worry of government locking you in a cage.

 

Anything else you’d like to say?

 

My favorite author Aldous Huxley once said in the foreword of his book Brave New World “Only a large-scale popular movement toward decentralization and self-help can arrest the present tendency toward statism” When he wrote this in 1932 there was no such movement but now with bitcoin and blockchain technology we have such a movement. Our goal is to spread the message of freedom through decentralization and push the movement further into the mainstream.

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Can Bitcoin and Multisig Reduce Identity Theft and Fraud?

Credit CardsIdentity theft and ecommerce fraud are costing billions of dollars each year, and have been increasing in recent years. Fortunately, due to the technical design of Bitcoin – along with one of its most powerful features, multisig – both buyers and sellers online have alternatives that can reduce the likelihood of being involved in identity theft or fraud.

In the United States, an estimated 17.6 million people were victims of identity theft in 2014 (the most recent year numbers are available).  The most common types of misused information were bank accounts (38% of cases) and credit cards (42% of cases).

It isn’t surprising that millions of cases of identity theft occur each year based on bank accounts and credit cards. The numbers that allow access to those accounts are unchanging, they are tied directly to your identity, and they are being stored in databases by any number of retailers who you’ve done business with. Those databases are a treasure trove for cybercriminals, and they are constantly under attack. The list of high-profile breaches in recent years is impressive: 56 million credit cards in 2014 by Home Depot, 70 million in 2013 by Target, 76 million households in the summer of 2014 by JP Morgan Chase, and the list goes on and on.

Bitcoin works differently. The numbers that give you access to your bitcoins aren’t shared publicly, and they don’t make their way into any databases. You don’t need to trust a business to store your Bitcoin information properly like you would a credit card – the business doesn’t have any information to store. There are no treasure troves of data for cybercriminals to steal.

Your bitcoin also aren’t tied directly to your identity. You can choose to give the merchant as much or as little information about yourself as you want. This gives buyers some assurances that their purchases won’t increase the likelihood of identity theft, and it gives merchants one less piece of data they need to protect. Identity theft based on bitcoin transactions is practically impossible.

People are starting to notice Bitcoin’s potential for reducing identity theft. In April, Business Wire reported that a recent survey showed victims of identity theft were taking action to prevent it from happening again, and 10% of them were using alternative currencies like Bitcoin.

Multisig

There is another aspect to Bitcoin that helps prevent online fraud. A feature called multisignature – often shortened to multisig – allows for bitcoins within a certain address to be controlled by more than one person.

The majority of bitcoins are owned by individuals, just like cash and other forms of money. With multisig you can now have multiple people, or even organizations, control the same coins. The multiple parties must then come to agreement before the bitcoins can be moved out of the account. There are many applications for multisig including increased security of funds, more equitable control of funds in non-profits and other organizations, and the ability to create complex contracting systems.

Perhaps the most useful application of multisig is escrow. A common use is the two-of-three multisig. This means there are three parties involved, and any two of them must agree before the bitcoins can be moved from escrow. The buyer and seller both choose a third party they trust, and then the buyer sends the funds into multisig. If the seller delivers as promised, then the buyer and seller both agree to release the funds, and since only two out of three parties are needed, the funds are then released from escrow. If there’s a dispute and buyer and seller can’t come to an agreement, then the third party is brought in to determine the winning party and join with them to release funds.

Consider how this is different from the existing system. In the current system with a stolen credit card, a buyer can order something and the seller will ship it as normal. When the real owner of the credit card realizes this and the credit card company reverses the transaction, the vendor typically is forced to eat the cost of their product.

Stolen credit cards aren’t the only way fraud is accomplished. Buyers can claim no delivery even when they’ve received a product. Ecommerce platforms and credit card companies are notorious for siding with buyers over vendors, and often don’t do their due diligence to determine who is really at fault. Vendors can also defraud buyers too, taking money but not delivering or delivering inferior products.

Bitcoin, along with multisig, prevents much of this fraud from occurring. There is no credit card company controlling Bitcoin that can reverse transactions, giving vendors the assurance that they control their own money. There’s also the ability for buyers and sellers to come to agreement about who will provide their dispute resolution via multisig, instead of being forced to use the ecommerce platform itself. As long as both parties choose a reputable third party, there’s little chance that fraud will be successful.

Bitcoin and multisig are useful tools to prevent fraud, but they’re not perfect. Bitcoins can be stolen, and once taken they’re unlikely to ever be returned. Protecting them takes some technical knowledge and the learning curve can be steeper than other payment systems. Although Bitcoin isn’t perfect and won’t eliminate all fraud online, it’s a powerful alternative for those willing to use them.

OpenBazaar

Giving buyers and sellers the ability to prevent fraud is one of many reasons OpenBazaar relies completely on Bitcoin. OpenBazaar also has two-of-three multisig built in, with an open marketplace of moderators who offer dispute resolution. If you want more privacy in online trade, with no fees, no censorship, and better protection from fraud, try OpenBazaar now.

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OpenBazaar Ecosystem: Virus Media

In these posts we take a look at some unique members of the OpenBazaar ecosystem. Today we interview a vendor – Virus Media – selling various items, among them handmade crocheted items. You can find Virus Media on OpenBazaar at @virusmedia, and on Duosearch here.

 
OBstoreVirusMedia
 

Tell us a bit about yourself?

 

First and foremost, virus media is a family operation. My brother and I, along with our families (11 of us altogether), feel that even though alternative media has been exploding these past few years, which has benefited everyone, alt media shouldn’t strive to just replace the corporate media. Instead it should seek to innovate and educate to the point that the very idea people get in their heads when they hear the word “media” is something completely different than today. If I could sum up our vision for the future in a word, it’s “decentralize.” As cliche as that might sound right now, we think that there is so much more work that can be done in this area, and OpenBazaar is at the tip of the spear. We’re slowly working toward this ideal ourselves, while we’re in this creation and brainstorming phase, we decided to get a headstart on one of the major problems all media faces, no matter the size of the group, funding. We, like so many others recently, believe that “ads” are not the way of the future. We believe a multi-faceted approach that brings even more value to the reader is the way to go. OpenBazaar is a perfect example of what one of those facets could (should) be for the decentralized media of the future.

 

What do you make?

 

Our goal is to tap each family member’s natural skills and passions that could bring value to other people’s lives. Currently moderation services and textiles have taken the front seat and we are looking to expand our offering of all natural beeswax and essential oil based products. Fun fact, we now source our beeswax from another OpenBazaar vendor, PexPeppers. In the near future we plan on adding leather products and a number of privacy protecting tech products and services.

 

virusmedia

 

Why are you selling your product on OpenBazaar?

 

We want to encourage transacting in bitcoin, we see it as a matter of conscience. We want to be an example others can follow. Second, we can easily see our media operation ruffling feathers in the future and we want to do what we can to protect our supply lines from bad actors. We all know what happened to wikileaks, but countless other alt media outlets with less of a voice have suffered the same. Third, it’s FUN! Rediscovering the bazaars of old with a modern twist has brought a whole new level of enjoyment from making and spending money.

 

How has your experience been with OpenBazaar so far?

 

We’re proud to be part of this pioneering effort! The community has been great, the developers have been gracious and we’ve been having a blast using the chat feature. The way the chat feature has been implemented really makes you feel as if you’re walking into someone’s shop. We’ve met some old friends and made a good many new ones! ProTip: Talk up vendors with the chat feature, you’ll often find hidden products or discounts!

 

How familiar are you with Bitcoin?

 

One of the things that has slowed our progress is that we all still have our day jobs, for now. Nevertheless, we have been receiving 100% of our wages in bitcoin for a good year and a half. So the entire family has become intimately acquainted with bitcoin during this time. It’s been our most liberating move as of yet. Keep an eye out, one of our first articles, or series of articles, will be an in depth look at how to live 100% on bitcoin. When we become fully operational, you’ll be able to find us on steem, yours network, watchmybit and popchest (when they get out of their startup accelerator) and search for us with goodgopher or duckduckgo. Our website will be hosted on IPFS and will mirror a lot of the content. Until then, I suggest you look into each of those cryptocurrency based technologies and services and start using them, so you’ll be ready for our first articles!

 

What changes would you like to see to OpenBazaar to make it more useful for you?

 

First, the amount of features available already completely blew me away, what OpenBazaar has already accomplished is impressive. As a developer myself, I think I have a little more insight into what it takes to pull something like this off. I also know that the feature request list for e-commerce sites is literally never ending. My day job is customizing e-commerce solutions to the visions of the creatives. It is a tough job! That being said, yes, I do have a list. 😉
1. Inventory Management
2. Promo Codes (discount, free shipping, buy x get y, etc)
3. Custom CSS
4. xpub key import for refund and vendor receive addresses
5. Product ordering for All and Category Pages
6. Free shipping icon displays for customer based on customer country.
7. IPFS

 

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New address for OpenBazaar project funds

Update, January 17, 2017: Due to one of the 2-of-3 keyholders losing access to their keys, we’ve transferred the project funds to a new account to ensure all three keyholders have access again. The new fund is still a 2-of-3 multisig and the rest of this post accurately describes the management of the project funds. The QR code and donation address below have both been updated to the most recent address.

Back in November 2014 we created a 2-of-4 multisig account for our OpenBazaar project fund, where we could receive donations. We explained our reasoning for using multisig and being transparent with our project funds. That multisig account has four keyholders: Brian Hoffman, Sam Patterson, Washington Sanchez, and Dionysis Zindros.

Dionysis has been instrumental in OpenBazaar’s creation and a strong supporter of the project, but hasn’t played an active role on the project recently. Also, the original setup of the multisig requires us to manually craft new transactions for each expenditure. In order for the project funds to be kept with active participants in the project, and for us to be able to pay out of the account more easily (important as the project grows), we are shifting the project funds to a new 2-of-3 multisig.

The new multisig address (updated on January 17, 2017) is 3QxbMjed45NLXnkUg9yYHRgbKCeLyZa4La, and here is the QR code:

OBfundsQR

 

 

We’re publicly tracking project fund expenditures. We haven’t used the fund often in recent times, but we expect now that OpenBazaar is launched it will happen more frequently, especially since merchandise sales began. We’re committed to transparency and will ensure that payments made out of the project fund will have the details noted.

All sales of merchandise on the @OpenBazaar store will go directly into this fund, and reimbursements for shipping costs and purchasing the merchandise from vendors will then be made. We’ll try as much as possible to use vendors that accept Bitcoin.

The same is true for bug bounties, maintaining server infrastructure, conference costs, and other expenses. They will all come out of this fund, with the preference of paying Bitcoin directly but using reimbursement if necessary.

If you have questions about the project fund please join our Slack and contact us there.

 

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Snapshot of the OpenBazaar ecosystem at the beginning

OpenBazaar was released to the public on April 4th, and after two weeks of use we wanted to take a snapshot of what this emerging ecosystem of decentralized trade looks like right at the beginning. In this post we’ll walk through some stats and also talk to people who have been using the software.

Stats

We’ve put out four releases of OpenBazaar over the past two weeks. Altogether, the installers for these releases have been downloaded more than 54,600 times. However, not everyone who downloads an installer ends up installing OpenBazaar and running a node on the network. Because it’s peer-to-peer it’s difficult to know exactly how many users did become a node on the network, but we can make educated guesses.

BazaarBay.org is a website which runs a crawler of the OpenBazaar network in order to display content on the web. Their site collects stats as they crawl, which aren’t meant to be precise but give a rough approximation of what the network looks like. According to their stats they’ve seen ~17,800 nodes on the network in total since launch. Of those over 2,200 were vendors selling items. The total number of listings people have put up for sale is just over 6,500.

At the moment there are 546 valid OpenBazaar handles that have registered a blockchain ID.

Stories

Stats are interesting, but we wanted to talk to some people using OpenBazaar to get a better understanding of their experience. I asked a set of questions to a few vendors on the network, as well as some developers who are building services on top of OpenBazaar.

Screenshot from 2016-04-18 11-55-37

BazaarBay

This third party service was mentioned above in this post. It’s a website that acts as a way to view the OpenBazaar network via the web. The creator of BazaarBay had this to say.

Why did you get involved with the project?

I was looking for interesting projects to support / work on / to develop some project-related addons. OpenBazaar was just what I was looking for. It contained technologies which I’m familiar with as well as the e-commerce side + bitcoin + bit of anarchistic attitude. That’s exactly what I was looking for.

Can you describe your experience with OpenBazaar over the past few weeks?

Everything has been great, there has been minor technical issues. But that’s something everyone should expect from new project.

Anything related to using OpenBazaar that was unexpected?

I think the vendor side has been unexpectedly strong and diverse. I didn’t expect so many vendors to start selling goods & services so quickly.

How long have you used Bitcoin?

Since launch.

Anything else to mention?

Because of all these positive feedback and experiences, we’re encouraged to add more resources; they will be assigned to BazaarBay development.

Tyler Smith

Tyler is a developer building various helpful services for OpenBazaar users, such as a hosting service for OpenBazaar stores.

Why did you get involved with the project?

I’ve been interested in OpenBazaar since before it was forked from the DarkMarket project because I believe in free markets, decentralization, and open protocols. OpenBazaar combines the three in a way that’s extremely interesting to me by introducing a simple but powerful protocol that anybody can use to structure trade. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get involved until mid-to-late 2015 but since then I’ve been working hard on providing tools, services, and support to the community because I think OpenBazaar can a giant success for free commerce if executed correctly. If we do things right we can enable open and unrestricted trade for all people and machines.

Can you describe your experience with OpenBazaar over the past few weeks?

The past couple of weeks have been extremely busy because the reception has been huge. I’ve always expected OpenBazaar to do well, but I would have never guessed at how excited, active, and helpful the community has been. I’ve gotten feedback for my services from nearly a hundred users and very quickly we’ve developed a group of enthusiastic users volunteering their time and energy to help others and report bugs. I already feel that I’ve made very good friends that I’ll keep in touch with for a long time. There were far less issues than I expected going from a pool of a dozen users to thousands in a couple of days. The issues that we did come across were quickly resolved. Working with the OpenBazaar protocol is very easy so it’s simple to adapt to rapidly incoming feedback. I look forward to helping make OpenBazaar a giant success; the ubiquitous protocol used for all commerce over networks.

Screenshot from 2016-04-18 11-34-34

Dutyfree

This OpenBazaar store sells cigarettes. Store handle: @gotcigarettes

Why did you start an OpenBazaar store?

I’ve been waiting to open my OB store for over a year now – the promise of permissionless peer to peer trade was just too mind-blowing to ignore. The idea that for the first time in history, it will be possible for any two people on the planet to trade with one another (not even mentioning the escrow) without asking anyone’s permission, or paying intermediaries has kept me awake at night really. Having said this, I’m really proud to be sitting in the front row of the commerce revolution!

Can you describe your experience with OpenBazaar over the past few weeks?

Apart from a few bugs here and there (which have been patched with incredible speed), my experience has been very positive. I’ve received a dozen of orders and have two positive feedbacks already – it feels great! :)

Anything related to using OpenBazaar that was unexpected?

The UX and the loading speed were totally unexpected. I was definitely not expecting such a smooth first version of the OB software.

How long have you used Bitcoin?

I’ve been using Bitcoin for a good five years already.

Anything else to mention?

It’d be nice if the dev team continues to work on the privacy aspect of OB – it’s so transparent (one’s IP address is pretty much public info) that it’s a little disconcerting.

sb

Robert Valmassoi (Owner, Surf Burro)

This OpenBazaar store sells Mexican blankets. Store handle: @surfburro

Why did you start an OpenBazaar store?

I’ve had multiple problems with dispute resolution on eBay and I have never liked their high fees, but there hasn’t been better alternatives. With what OpenBazaar provides and as a bitcoin user, it was naturally compelling. Although I plan to use it personally when I need to sell something, my company Surf Burro was a perfect first store. OpenBazaar is another outlet for us to find more customers, has no fees, and is bundled in a fairly smooth platform.

Can you describe your experience with OpenBazaar over the past few weeks?

Application: The program is simple and well designed. I was able to get the store setup very quickly. There has been a few bugs, but after working with the OB1 developers, they have all been resolved and the software is running smoothly now.

Buying: I haven’t yet made a purchase. At the moment the catalog is lacking, but I’m sure it will increase with user growth and improved search/browsing functionality.

Selling: I’m happy with the volume we’ve sold in the short amount of time. Half of our buyers chose to use a moderator, but didn’t need to start a dispute. The escrow system works great, the funds get released quickly and no chance of a chargeback to worry about.

Overall I am very happy with OpenBazaar, even it its early stage.

Anything related to using OpenBazaar that was unexpected?

I didn’t realize how useful the chat would be. It is a much better way to communicate with customers and potential customers alike, as compared to eBay’s email-like messaging system. It has even led to a few sales.

How long have you used Bitcoin?

I first became interested and invested in bitcoin in 2012. Surf Burro has accepted bitcoin on our site since we started in 2014.

Anything else to mention?

I think OpenBazaar aligns well with bitcoin’s ideals, and is a great step towards a future of free trade. Although OpenBazaar’s youth currently shows, I can see its potential and have high hopes for its future.

 

 

Screenshot from 2016-04-18 12-15-09

Gold and Silver Bazaar

This OpenBazaar store sells gold and silver coins. Store handle: @GoldandSilverBazaar 

I put my store up on the OpenBazaar network in the first week of your release.

I was excited to see 2 sales come in within the first 48 hours. A 50 gram silver bar to a customer in France and a silver “CopBlock Quarter” to someone in the USA. I have also sold this week a “1766 Spanish Piece of Eight” Coin along with several other rare silver coins.

I moved my site from my windows laptop after the first 2 days and I was unable to migrate my store to the new server. So I built a new one and my existing customers found me and were happy to report that there orders had arrived and wanted to make sure I would get the BTC before they released it. So far,  500.00 in a week!

I put it up on a Digital Ocean VPS and had a difficult time keeping it up for more than 2 days at a time without it hanging and requiring me to restart the server. I have automated that process with a “cron script” for now.

Recently I did an “git pull” update on both of my servers and they haven’t had issues yet.

I launched a second store @thefarmersmarket  a few days ago and have had 3 sales of homemade caramels to people from around the country.

I am impressed with OpenBazaar. I sell alot on ebay and I cant wait to spread the word for OpenBazaar Bitcoin.

I am looking forward to the future of OpenBazaar.

 

Screenshot from 2016-04-18 12-22-53

OpenBazaar Store

We also run a store on OpenBazaar, selling merchandise. Proceeds go to the project fund.

Since launch we’ve had 221 orders placed and ran out of OpenBazaar pins the first day (more are on the way). The store now has 8,800 followers!

 

Growing pains

We’ve been very pleased by the community’s reception of the OpenBazaar launch, but it hasn’t gone off without a hitch.

Most users could install the first release without problems, but when we released the next update (1.1.1) many Windows users couldn’t install the software, or received the message “Unable to Connect to Server.” This was a bug caused by not properly packaging OpenSSL, which was fixed in newer releases.

The “Unable to Connect to Server” problem still impacts some users, and we’re working to diagnose why this is.

The first three releases also had a problem with CPU usage on the server side. The server would run fine for sometime, and then spike quickly, causing it to become unresponsive for several minutes (or even crash). This issue was solved in the newest release (1.1.3).

Many users have joined OpenBazaar to test out the software, but don’t keep a server running continually. For other users who later try to navigate to their page, they get a “The page you’re trying to view is currently offline” message, which is a frustrating experience. This is a current limitation of the software, and we’re working to address this issue.

Vendors have reported that the shipping options are too limited, and order management is too simple. We’re aware of this (I experienced this personally when dealing with @OpenBazaar store orders) and are working to improve them.

Summary

OpenBazaar had an exciting first few weeks with thousands of people using the new software. There were plenty of problems, and there’s a long way to go for decentralized trade to reach mainstream. But the developers and users building the ecosystem have finally gotten a glimpse of what permissionless trade looks like, and they’re not stopping until we can all trade free.

 

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Current Limitations of the OpenBazaar Software

Anyone with a computer and internet connection can easily install the OpenBazaar software and begin trading with anyone else in the world – for free – without permission. We firmly believe that decentralized, P2P trade is going to fundamentally change commerce for the better.

However, we don’t expect this to happen overnight. Our upcoming mainnet release is only the first step in this process, and the software has some limitations. Some of these limitations are due to the nature of decentralized networks, and others are due to the limited time and resources we’ve had while building this product.

We want to make sure everyone is aware of the current limitations, as well as our plan to address them if possible. OpenBazaar is an open source project and we welcome more people on board to help us tackle these challenges.

Current Limitations

1. Offline stores

In the current design, a user’s store must remain online for other users to see and purchase listings of goods and services. The data around listings is hosted by the store itself and not replicated elsewhere. Users who don’t want to run OpenBazaar on their own machines can choose to run their node on inexpensive dedicated hardware, such as a Raspberry Pi, or by using a VPS which will keep their store online 24/7.

Addressing this limitation

Because the network is entirely peer to peer, it’s a difficult problem to determine how to make storage of listings and other data accessible even when a peer goes offline. However, there are other projects working on these problems. One project is the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). Our lead back-end developer Chris Pacia has begun looking at how IPFS could be used to cache data and serve offline listings. It’s still early, but it looks promising. Our goal is to eventually transition away from the requirement of running a store continuously in order to engage in trade on the network.

2. Inventory management

In the current design, stores have only rudimentary inventory management tools. They cannot import/export listings from other platforms (e.g. TaoBao, eBay, Shopify), or specify the number of stock available for purchase. For the time being, listings need to be manually removed when they are sold out, similar to Craigslist and other classifieds.

Addressing this limitation

Inventory controls is a top priority feature to be added shortly after the mainnet release. Work has already begun on this issue, and the team will work closely with vendors to design and implement an inventory management system that works for them.

3. Search

Search in OpenBazaar is limited to querying the network for listings tagged with keywords that Vendors have assigned. This means that if a Vendor tags his product as ‘#tshirt’, and a buyer searches for ‘#tshirt’, they will see the Vendor’s product along with any other listing with that keyword. There are several limitations to this approach.

Because the network has no central authority, there’s no way to prevent people from mislabeling the products and attaching keywords which are unrelated to their product. Also, the process of looking through the network to find related keywords is slow. There’s no room for error either; keywords must be exact matches.

Addressing this limitation

This limitation is characteristic of P2P networks. Fortunately, users aren’t completely reliant on the search tool in the client, and the search feature isn’t the only way to navigate the network.

Bazaarbay.org is an example of a third party service which crawls the OpenBazaar network and gives users a more convenient search engine tool they’re used to. As OpenBazaar grows, similar services are expected to build their own search services.

Also, users can find listings without search altogether. The Discover page shows a random sampling of other stores, and they can also put an OB link to a store or listing directly into the navigation bar.

4. Anonymity

OpenBazaar users don’t have their IP addresses obfuscated. This means that a malicious user may be able to tie someone’s activity on the OpenBazaar network to the location of their physical internet connection.

In other areas of the design, OpenBazaar has focused on giving users more control over their own privacy. All traffic between OpenBazaar nodes is encrypted, so that others cannot see the details of transactions. This includes an end-to-end encrypted chat. Data is only seen by the parties directly involved in the trade.

Addressing this limitation

As OpenBazaar project lead Brian Hoffman has stated, “I think [anonymity] is, without a doubt, one of the most important, fundamental things that we need to have in OpenBazaar.”

There are some ways to increase privacy now. Similar to a bittorrent node, OpenBazaar users can run their node behind a VPN now. They can also run on a VPS.

We are looking at integrating other tools which enhance privacy. Tor is something we’ve thought about, but is difficult due to the fact that OpenBazaar uses UDP instead of TCP. Another tool which looks more promising is I2P, something which we’ve begun to investigate more closely. I2P already uses UDP.

IPFS is working on support for IPv6, Tor, and I2P connections. If we transition to IPFS and they have completed support for these tools, then users will have more anonymity options available to them.

5. Reputation

The reputation system on OpenBazaar is currently limited to buyers leaving reviews on transactions they’ve had with vendors, which are public. Reviews can only be left if a Bitcoin transaction has occurred, which prevents users from leaving reviews without actually engaging in some sort of transaction. As is true on other platforms, there’s nothing that prevents an untrustworthy vendor from pretending to be a buyer and purchasing their own product, leaving a positive review.

Reviews cannot be given to buyers or moderators. It’s important that buyers and vendors trust moderators, who act as escrow agents to ensure the transaction goes through smoothly. Without a reputation system in the current version of the software, users will need to determine trustworthiness of moderators through outside channels or by moderators choosing to connect their profiles to their real life identities.

Addressing this limitation

Building a decentralized reputation system that can be trusted – especially when allowing for anonymous users – is an unsolved problem. Our first attempt at reputation is a simple one that requires all parties involved to be able to prove a Bitcoin transaction occurred. Future versions will allow reviews on moderators, and also will be able to use the public ratings left on vendors to do more complex analysis.

Because OpenBazaar is open source, it’s also possible that third parties could do blockchain analysis to detect reputation fraud and offer their own reputation systems.

Join us

Building a peer to peer system for global trade is hard; come help us realize this vision of completely free trade. If you’re a developer, you can take a look at the back-end code or the open issues, or the front-end code or open issues. Feel free to join our Slack to talk directly to the devs and other community members. You don’t need to be a developer to join, we need testers, vendors, buyers and anyone else who’s interested in helping out however they can.

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OpenBazaar User Tutorial

This tutorial will show users how to install OpenBazaar, navigate the network, and make purchases.

If you have problems along the way, visit our help desk. If you want to chat with someone from the OpenBazaar community for help, or to give feedback on how OpenBazaar is working for you, join our Slack community.

Step #1 – Download and install OpenBazaar

Most users will want to download a package for their operating system, which makes installation as simple as downloading and opening a file. If you have some technical expertise and want to manually install OpenBazaar, read these instructions.

The packages for release can be found on our Github releases page at this link:

Download OpenBazaar

Windows users use the OpenBazaar-1.X.X_Setup.exe file. After downloading and opening the file, Windows users will be guided through an installation process which should go very quickly.

OS X users use the OpenBazaar-1.X.X.dmg file.

Linux users use the .deb file.

Download and open the file.

Step #2 – Run OpenBazaar for the first time

The first time you run OpenBazaar you will be guided through an onboarding process to personalize your experience. You will be asked a few questions such as your language, country, and preferred currency.

onboarding1

Each user has their own page on the OpenBazaar network. You can choose a specific theme to make your store unique.

onboarding2

You also have the opportunity to upload an avatar for your store. Click on “Select Avatar” to choose a file from your computer.

onboarding3

The last part of the onboarding process is a disclaimer about using the OpenBazaar software, which you should read before continuing.

After finishing onboarding, you’ll now see your own OpenBazaar page. Here’s what an example page looks like.

newuserpage

Notice the long string of characters below your name, and in the navigation bar at the top of the client. This is your OpenBazaar ID, which is an address that every page on the network has. You can learn more about OpenBazaar IDs here, and how to create simpler names called “handles” here.

newuserpageOBID

Step #3 – View OpenBazaar listings and stores

OpenBazaar is a network of users all over the world who host their own stores, and sell goods and services for Bitcoin.

To view a random sampling of other stores, click on the “Discover” icon (looks like an eye) on the top right of the client. This will bring you to the main Discover page where you can view listings and stores on the OpenBazaar network.

discoverlistings

By default you’ll see listings, but if you click on the “Pages” tab you’ll be shown a list of pages which you can connect to. This isn’t a complete list of all the pages on the network; at any one time your own computer only connects to a subset of the overall network.

discoverpages2

Note that, by default, users will have a NSFW filter turned on that will hide listings which have been labeled NSFW by the vendor. You can turn off this filter by going into Settings > General tab > clicking “No” on the “Display NSFW Content?” option at the bottom > Saving changes.

If you see a listing which is inappropriate or offensive, you can block that user. Blocking another user means you will not see their items or store on your discover page. You can block a user by hovering over the listing and clicking “Block.”

blockuser2

Navigation bar

You can also use the navigation bar to find other stores or listings. Every listing and store has an address on the network, and putting in that address will take you there, just like a website.

For example, take note of the navigation bar on this image. By default, all pages have an address like this, called the OpenBazaar ID. Putting this address into the navigation bar will take you to their page if it’s online.

storenavigationbar2

Since this address isn’t memorable (similar to a Bitcoin address) there is a simpler way. OpenBazaar IDs can be tied to “Handles,” which are short names that can easily be entered into the navigation bar. For example, here’s a store with the handle @drwasho. If you want to set up your own handle, read this article.

storeHandle2

Listings have addresses as well. The address first contains the OpenBazaar ID or Handle of the store, and then /item/ followed by the address of the specific item. For example, this listing has the following address:

8ed937277cad44f4bda553bb2bc6b47e4b4a246e/item/86fda502a9175b8173cd540a355a23eecf20ea62

listingaddress2

Copy these addresses in client with Ctrl+C, and paste them with Ctrl+V. You can use share these addresses on the web and other OpenBazaar users can navigate directly to the addresses by pasting them in their navigation bars.

Chat and following

OpenBazaar isn’t a giant ecommerce site; it’s a group of people who all want to engage in peer to peer trade. If you want to talk with those people, you can by using the built-in chat function. Chat is encrypted end-to-end for user’s privacy.

On any OpenBazaar page, you can message the owner of the page by clicking the “message” button.

storepagechat2

This opens the chat bar on the right of the client. You’ll see the user and their avatar at the top, your messages in the middle, and then a text field to type at the bottom. There’s also a dropdown on the right which allows you to view the users page and also block the user if they are harassing you.

storepagechatexample

If you want to remember a store you found, you can follow them, which will add them to your following list. On their page, click the follow button.

follow2

Then on your own page, you can click the following tab and see the stores you’ve followed.

following

Step #4 – Buy something

OpenBazaar is all about creating a new peer to peer network for trade, using Bitcoin. So let’s buy something! Find an item you like and click the big “BUY NOW” button.

The first time you purchase something on OpenBazaar, you’re going to be asked if you have a Bitcoin wallet or not.

buyflow1

If you don’t, you’ll get a list of wallet providers to choose from. You’ll need Bitcoin to buy anything on OpenBazaar, so if you don’t have Bitcoin yet then you should either become a vendor on OpenBazaar and sell some items to earn some Bitcoin, or buy some elsewhere.

If you have Bitcoin, then you can proceed. If the vendor has chosen moderators, you’ll be asked to select from one of two payment types:

1. Direct Payment – The buyer sends the bitcoin directly to the vendor.

2. Moderated Payment – The buyer sends the bitcoin into an escrow account and they are released when the transaction is finished.

You can read more about moderators and moderated payments here. The bottom line is this: Moderated payments give the buyer some protection against the vendor taking the money and not delivering the product. But it’s important to choose a trustworthy moderator. Forums such as OpenBazaar Moderators give people a place to discuss good or bad moderators.

If you choose moderated payments, then your bitcoins will be sent into an escrow account (using a unique feature of Bitcoin called multisignature addresses) that will only allow the funds to move if two out of three parties agree. Those parties are the buyer, vendor, and the moderator. This is more secure than a direct payment, in which the vendor receives payment as soon as they process the order.

After you choose which payment type you want, you will be asked to enter a Bitcoin address that you control. This address is only used in case there is a refund. Once you’ve entered this refund address the first time, you will not be asked again, but you can change it in settings. If you choose to create a temporary address with RushWallet, please don’t forget to save the URL so that you don’t lose it.

If you are buying a physical item, you’ll now be asked to enter a shipping address. If the vendor doesn’t ship to your country then you’ll be unable to purchase the item.

buyflowshipping

You’ll then be shown a summary screen with details of your order, and quantity, shipping information and moderator details (if it’s a moderated payment). If you are satisfied and want to place and order, click the “Pay for Order” button.

buyflowfinal2

You’ll now be shown the last step in the purchasing process, the payment screen. If you’re familiar with Bitcoin then you’ve seen these QR codes many times. If you have a mobile Bitcoin wallet, simply scan the code and pay. If you have a local wallet, you can click “Open in Local Wallet” and you can finish payment there, or click “Copy to Clipboard” to get the payment address easily.

buyflowpayment

After paying you should see the payment screen change to indicate successful payment in only a few seconds.

buyflowpaymentsuccess

If you don’t see anything change within a few minutes, then you can click the “Refresh Payment Status” button to manually check for payment again.

You’ve bought something, what now?

Step #5 – Managing orders

You can view your purchases by clicking on the menu on the top right of the client, and then on the “Purchases” section of the dropdown menu.

purchasesmenu2

This brings you to your transactions page, which shows you all of your purchases, sales (if a vendor) and cases (if a moderator). To view more details about a purchase, click on “Order Details.”

purchasesorderdetails2

In this window you’ll see several tabs. The first is a summary tab which gives you an overview of the order. The second is a funds tab which shows the details of all the Bitcoin transactions. The third is a Discussion tab which allows you to have a conversation with the vendor, as well as open a dispute with the moderator if it was a moderated transaction.

purchasemodaldiscussion

You may also have a shipping tab if you ordered a physical item. This tab will show the shipping address you provided.

This window is also where you’ll finish up your orders if you selected a moderated payment. If the vendor shipped the item or delivered the service to your satisfaction, then you should complete the order releasing the funds to the vendor. This also gives you an opportunity to leave a rating for your transaction. After the vendor confirms the order on their end, you’ll have the opportunity press the “Complete this order” on the top left of the window.

purchasereleasefunds2

You’ll then be asked for the rating, and can scroll down to enter a text review as well. Click save and your rating will be left on the product, and funds will be released.

Disputes

What if the vendor never sends the product, or they sent something broken? If you have a problem with the vendor, the first step should be to contact them and ask for them to resolve the situation or ask for a refund.

If the vendor is unresponsive or won’t cooperate, and you’ve selected a moderated transaction, you can then open a dispute and bring your case to the moderator. To do this, open the Discussion tab (we showed this above) on the order you placed.

You’ll then be able to open a dispute by making your case to the moderator in the chat area, and checking a box on the bottom right labeled “Start a Dispute” then sending the message.

disputeopen2

The moderator will then be able to see the conversation from that point out. They should work with both buyer and seller to determine who will receive the funds in the escrow. Eventually the moderator should close the transaction, which will display the message “END DISPUTE” in the chat and also give you the option to accept the payout if you were the winning party. Notice in this example the payout amounts mentioned on the top of the window. If they look right, then you can click the “Accept Dispute Payout” button.

disputeaccept2

As soon as you accept the payout the funds will be released to you. Note that the moderator will be paid a percentage of the overall transaction if they are called upon to settle a dispute.

Reminders

If you want to go beyond just buying goods and services on OpenBazaar and become a vendor, you can learn more at the Vendor’s Guide.

If you’re still using OpenBazaar in the test phase, you’ll need to use a testnet address and testnet coins instead of regular Bitcoin. There are more instructions in the tester’s guide.

If you need help, visit our help desk. If you want to chat with someone from the OpenBazaar community for help, or to give feedback on how OpenBazaar is working for you, join our Slack community.

Let’s make trade free!

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