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.
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
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:
Most of the recent work was dedicated to wallet stability.
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
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.
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.
The Internet facilitates an astounding (and ever-increasing) amount of commerce in our world. Allowing people to communicate with each other anywhere in the world and at low cost has ushered in an new era of global trade.
However, a few powerful organizations wield great influence over commerce online, and they have used their power to set up a rigged game. A “fake market.”
Anil Dash recently wrote an article entitled “Tech and the Fake Market tactic” which gives examples of how a few companies have creating markets online that appear fair, but in reality are tilted in their own favor:
Google’s results showing Google products first
Amazon displays it’s own products over better alternatives
Uber drivers’ rates aren’t decided by the drivers but set by Uber
These companies aren’t doing anything you wouldn’t expect them to do — they are using their popularity to give themselves a further advantage. But as these companies’ share of online commerce grows, their ability to further manipulate the markets in their favor grows as well. It’s not hard to imagine how Google, Amazon, or other huge companies on the Internet could further their positions as “default” services by manipulating what their users see for their own benefit.
These companies also collect the data of all their users for their own purposes, charge fees when users sell on their platforms, and censor trade based on their own interests or on behalf of governments. They act as gatekeepers into their own tightly-controlled system. Most users aren’t aware they are seeing a rigged market, and even if they do realize it they aren’t aware of any alternatives.
What can be done about these rigged markets? In his article Anil suggests the following course of action:
Perhaps the single most effective action we can take is to educate our elected officials about the changes that are happening.
I disagree with Anil that elected officials are the right people to solve this problem. Their only tool is the application of law, which is a powerful but blunt instrument. Politicians don’t have a compelling track record when it comes to understanding new technologies. Regulators are often strongly influenced by the people they are regulating — a term called “regulatory capture” — and these powerful companies would try to help make the new rules end up in their favor.
There’s a more compelling way to address rigged markets: bypass the gatekeepers of online commerce altogether.
Their power comes from the centralized nature of the existing commerce platforms. They control the center; they control the commerce.
Fortunately, a handful of emerging technologies gives us the ability to fix these rigged markets once and for all. But new markets are emerging that have no center to control. They are decentralized, meaning each user in these markets connects directly to other users. These markets have no gatekeepers; there are no gates to keep in a completely peer-to-peer marketplace. Decentralized markets also have no fees, no data collection, and no censorship.
They can’t be rigged.
It’s not possible to have a truly open and transparent marketplace when one party controls the entire market. But online markets can be fair and free. Not because some elected officials may demand it, but because decentralization creates a level playing field where no one has an advantage over anyone else.
Decentralized tools such as OpenBazaar and Bitcoin are already being used as an alternative to the dominant online commerce platforms and payment methods. If you want to participate in online commerce that is fair and free, trying using them today.
OpenBazaar Front End Lead Josh Jeffryes describes the evolution of OB1’s collaboration process for our entirely remote team building the decentralized marketplace, OpenBazaar:
The OB1 Process
Building great products requires a great process. As the OpenBazaar platform has grown, so has the way we work together to build it. We’ve continuously improved how we plan and execute our work, and as we near the release of version 2 of OpenBazaar, we’d like to share some insight into those improvements with you.
The Minimal Viable Process
OpenBazaar started as a side project, and at the start we had a side project process. We used Slack and Github, and kept things informal. As we grew into a full-time startup, with a fully remote team distributed across the world, we needed a startup process.
When your idea and team are small, a minimal process is ok. The idea fits in everyone’s minds, and you agree on what it is. But as the idea grows, it stops fitting, and the parts in each mind may not match. You need an external map so those parts still fit together when you’re done.
Without a process to create that map, you spend most of your time maintaining agreement about what you’re building, instead of building it.
This is where Agile was a critical tool for us. We constructed a process from Agile patterns, and added or removed patterns as we went.
We began by defining each feature needed for OpenBazaar version 2. Then we organized those features into sprints of 2 weeks each. This makes it possible to know if a UI feature will be built in sprint 6, the back end functionality needs to be built in spring 5, the design in sprint 4, and the specifications in sprint 3. Technical details were fleshed out in regular planning sessions before each sprint.
Trello was our tool for sprint organization. It’s simple and easy to use. Github was used to track issues, bugs, and technical specifications, and designs were shared with Zeplin.
More Collaboration Means Less Everything Else
If you don’t use the same map, you don’t arrive at the same place. We stay on the map by constantly building it together.
Before any feature is worked on, we work together to define it over video conferencing, first as a user story (“the user wants to do “x”), then a design, and finally a detailed set of technical requirements.
When a feature is done, the code is reviewed by the whole team. A lead reviewer gives detailed feedback, but other members, even non-technical ones, comments on what the feature does and how it works.
We continue to improve and change our process. We’ve added back in some Agile patterns we discarded previously as too structured. When our sprints became more formal, with set planning, review, and retrospectives, Trello started to strain under the level of detail we needed. We moved to Jira, which allowed us to set up a customized process.
The OpenBazaar platform becomes stronger every day because we constantly iterate, test, and improve it. Like every great startup, we treat our process the same way.
In case you missed it, here is other notable news from the last couple of weeks:
Do you feel like the stock photo/art/video space could use some disruption? If you’ve created or bought digital media before you may have encountered some frustration along the way. Up-and-coming vendor Open Source Photos has joined OpenBazaar with a lot of ideas about how our marketplace can be paired with another innovative blockchain tool to meet a need and change the world.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you make/sell?
My name is Tim and I want to share my photography and inspire the world. That is the idea behind Open Source Photos. It brings joy knowing my work inspires others to create/share/distribute/profit/feel emotion in some way. I also want to distribute my photography cheaper than any stock photo website & without the hassle. I’d love for people to be able to purchase a photo once and do what they want with it, no questions asked.
Why do you use OpenBazaar and how long have you had an OpenBazaar store?
I love the idea of decentralized services not controlled by single entities. Decentralization is foundation of the internet after all.
I have made a few purchases on OB and I just love the fact I can order something from someone across the globe, the money goes DIRECTLY to them, and I can experience things that I normally wouldn’t be able to.
For example, I ordered some Riceberry from Thailand. If I were to order this on Amazon it would cost me $35-50 depending on the source and I would likely still pay for shipping since most of them are not prime. On OpenBazaar I was able to get a brick of it, along with some extra swag the buyer threw in, for only $30–and that INCLUDED the shipping. Cutting out the middleman apparently saves money, who knew! Now I am able to experience a strain of rice and some culture from across the globe, from the comfort of my own home, all while helping someone who has the foresight to try to be an entrepreneur in this global marketplace.
So far the community has been very welcoming. I even had 1 purchase on one of my earlier stores before my history got erased because I didn’t yet know how to backup the GUID/STORE from my VPS (Virtual Private Server). I had one purchase later and was hoping/waiting on some feedback but it never came through. Thankfully I was able to use a moderator to get the funds moved from escrow to my wallet.
I’m grateful for the testing and experience I’ve gained using the platform at an early stage.
This will allow me to appreciate the more streamlined clients to come. I still am a relative OpenBazaar newb as I have only been in the community for about a month now.
Even if it doesn’t work out to where I can use this as a source of income, I’ve learned some networking/computing skills I didn’t have before. I hopefully can inspire a few people to go down the same route as me with their artwork and this can have a pay it forward mentality. I look forward to watching OpenBazaar and its community grow as bitcoin becomes more globally adopted and hopefully we can start a Digital Media Revolution!
Why did you start in this business?
For a stock image/video/art buyer, trying to use the current system of using the big name sites like Shutterstock can be a pain. There are various licensing options depending how the buyer wants to use the photo. Is it a one time use? Is it in a magazine? If so how big is their distribution? Do they want exclusive rights?
There are difficulties for creators as well. You have to apply to sell by submitting some work and having them judge the photo before selling. This is to create more quality images to sell the marketplace’s brand at a higher price than competitors. These websites also take a cut of the money from the photographer for offering this service and it just creates extra paperwork/red-tape.
Then there’s the internet itself. It is a great engine for sharing and reposting content and great communities try to give the original video/author credit, but does it work all the time or endure for the whole lifespan of the image? Can people take my creations and profit somewhere that I may never see a penny of it? Most definitely, but by applying the wisdom of crowds and hoping that by eliminating red-tape and licensing options with a buy-it-once approach I can spend more time doing what I want–which is taking photos/making images–and sell more images for less rather than just a few images for more than what they are worth.
The idea I have is to be able to sell your digital goods with an open source mindset, thus calling my store “Open Source Photos.” This means that creators can sell their work through their their own store by using a service like ascribe.io to claim ownership of the image and if it becomes frequently used or remixed that good fortune will trickle its way back to you.
What is ascribe.io? I’m quoting from their website:
“Attribution for your creative work will stay with you forever.”
“Create a permanent and unbreakable link between you and your creative work. That link – the record of ownership – can be forever verified and tracked.”
“Each registered piece comes with a COA, a built in unique cryptographic ID and the complete ownership history. The COA can be verified anytime and printed out.”
“Transfer, consign or loan your digital creations without losing attribution. Our easy-to-use platform comes equipped with clear legal framework and supports custom contracts.”
Basically think free, blockchain-based copyright service for artists. This sort of tracking creates a proof that each image a creator uploads is actually their image. Even if someone then buys an image and tries to re-upload it, the original artist’s date stamp will still be prior to theirs so the community can still see the original author. They can let their images go with the “Open Source License” – basically the MIT license but replace code/programs with digital files/images.
Copyright is dead – or rather should be drastically changed.
The idea behind copyright makes sense in terms of protecting an artists work and trying to get them the money they deserve for their work , however it has gone overboard in my opinion. If you think about it, many creations are created of the backs of another idea. It is hard to come up with an original song without subconsciously using a riff you may have heard. Using code from one program to implement it in another creating a new service that didn’t exist before. Sure there are the truly innovating who can come up with a unique concept, but most things are a remix already.
By applying copyright to everything it stifles innovation and creation. Just look at YouTube’s copyright policy which is now banning users and de-monetizing their videos all because of a 3 second sound clip that matched one in their database. Algorithms are now becoming judge, jury and executioner (of profits). What helped the growth of YouTube (the crazy remix videos) is now becoming banned, and I feel in the long term, YouTube is going to be the next MySpace if enough users jump ship to a platform that isn’t so riddled with legal paperwork.
What is your target market?
By offering my images at a low price it allows that kid who’s 16 who maybe wants some pictures to practice with in Photoshop or web design but he doesn’t have a credit card to purchase images offline and he doesn’t want to steal someone’s work. He can now using just a small amount of bitcoin to purchase a photo and do what he wants with it. I’m not going to track anyone down and demand royalties. Want an easy image for a blog post/forum/website/business header? Buy it once and re-use it remix it as much as you want!
If someone living in a real market city in, let’s say India, wants to buy a few of my images to make and sell physical prints on the other side of the world, why
should I get a percentage of every sale? They did all of the legwork to print this image and bring it to their local market that way. They aren’t saturating my local area with my own work and it won’t affect my profits here. It would be nice to get recondition for my work like with a CC license (this means they can re-mix re-use your work but they legally have to give you credit which again is more red tape) but I do not require it because if it works out and they want more images, they will come back. Also each image using ascribe.io will be date stamped to me being the author of the image.
If someone wants to purchase images and create OpenBazaar themes to then sell on OpenBazaar – please do it! I feel if you change the photo or are using it in a unique way that you thought of, I shouldn’t get any part of that. I simply gave you the blue paint and you used it to paint the ocean.
I am hoping others will go with this idea, letting their art go for cheap and allowing it to be remixed and resold, as this could create a feedback loop where the artists are not only making money off consumers and fans of their work, but the majority of their money will be coming from within the community because the money will flow from one artist to the other as they bounce images/ideas/themes/photo skills off each other.
How will you determine your prices?
I will do my best at keeping the costs as low as possible while still covering transaction cost/listing time. I ideally would like to sell images for around $1-2 a piece. Rather than try to take 1 amazing work and sell it for $1,000, I’d rather have so many images that people want to use because of the convenience that I’m selling 1,000 photos for $1. And because of the integration with cryptocurrency it makes selling for smaller amounts economically feasible.
Meet Tim & check out these examples of the kinds of photos you can expect from Open Source Photos, coming soon!
Want to learn more about vendors and thinkers in the OpenBazaar community? Check out these posts!
For the past couple of weeks, OpenBazaar front-end developer Rob Misiorowski has been elbows-deep in the development of the 2.0 chat feature. Here is a look into some of the work he’s been doing:
For the past few weeks I’ve been working on the chat function for version 2.0 which is similar to current 1.0 chat, with a few enhancements on the user’s side. Notably planned is emoji support, typing & message read indicators, and an Unread Messages badge indicating offscreen threads with unread messages.
There are new things going on under the hood, though. To get certain data needed for the Chat UI (handle, avatar hash, location), individual profiles for each user in the UI need to be obtained. These need to be obtained via IPNS, which has been quite slow (calls often take 10+ seconds). The problem with having to make an individual call for each chat head is that the browser has a limit of 6 concurrent HTTP requests to the same domain. So, if we clog that up with bulky time-consuming IPNS calls, the rest of the app will be blocked. For example, if the user tries to navigate to another page, any data required for that page will go to the end of the HTTP request queue and would need to wait until no more than 5 of the chat IPNS calls are left. That could be a while and in the meantime the user would just be looking at a loading spinner which is a great way to ruin the usability of a feature.
What is IPNS?
It’s new. Here’s a digest from back-end developer Tyler Smith: IPNS is like DNS for IPFS content. It let’s you find IPFS data by a name if you don’t know the hash. The hashes verify integrity so IPFS only needs to find one copy of the content when you search by hash. But when you search by name it has to talk to many nodes and find a quorum of what hash a name points at which makes it much slower.
So what we decided to do was expose an HTTP endpoint on the server where you could request profiles in bulk. For example, if we need 10 profiles, we could request them in 1 call, instead of 10. Furthermore, the endpoint has an ‘async’ option, which if true would send the profiles back via sockets as they are obtained by the server. Long story short, we’re not clogging up the UI and we still get the profiles as they’re available. Hooray!
Additional thoughts about IPFS/IPNS from Rob:
In our experience, direct IPFS calls have been fairly performant. IPNS calls, on the other hand, have been quite slow. Apparently the bottleneck is that it takes quite a bit of time for the IPFS system to get the mapping of peerId to hash. When we were at Coindesk’s Construct 2017 event a couple of weeks ago we brought this up with the IPFS team and they gave us an idea of how we could improve this performance. It basically involves having the server register in a pub / sub system with other nodes so that as soon as a node has its hash available, it publishes it in real time and any subscribed servers could cache that mapping. That way, the expensive lookup wouldn’t have to happen as the UI is trying to get data. We haven’t looked into implementing that yet and it’s unknown how much of an improvement that would give us, but it does sound quite promising!
In case you missed it, here is other notable news from the last couple of weeks:
This new year we’ve been looking at new technologies to see how they could improve our lives. The best example (and the inspiration at the root of OpenBazaar) is new money – such as Bitcoin – which lets us exchange value with each other directly. No need to rely on banks or other third parties.
Also, new networks, built intentionally to be decentralized, now provide a way for people to take greater control of their online lives.
OpenBazaar is one of these new networks. Launched in 2016 it’s being used by people all over the world right now who are buying and selling directly with each other and paying in Bitcoin.
Building something as revolutionary as a fully decentralized marketplace has had its challenges and we are so grateful for the feedback we’ve received from our active users. Enacting that feedback has ended up being a bit broader than we expected and to meet the needs of our community so this year OpenBazaar will become a brand new network again when the 2.0 version of the software launches.
Why did we decide to do a rebuild rather than an update?
It’s been exciting to see how people have used the current version of the software, but a lot has changed since we started working on OpenBazaar in 2014. Other technologies have become more mature and reliable. Due to the feedback from our users we saw how we could utilize these new technologies to make the p2p trade experience even better, and we began building a new version of OpenBazaar.
Here are the major points of the 2.0 rebuild:
This new version of OpenBazaar is being built on top of another very new, decentralized network called the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). Being built on IPFS is exciting for many reasons but the most practical reason is that that OpenBazaar stores and listings will be cached and seeded between each other, meaning that store data will be distributed across the network. A store which is seeded will no longer need to be online 24/7 for their store and listings to be accessible by others on the network. This was a major piece of the puzzle for building a truly decentralized network that was also incredibly functional–even functional enough to compete with existing (and wildly popular) ecommerce models.
The software is also being rewritten in a new language. Originally in Python, version 2.0 is written in Go to allow for better management of dependencies and for the end user, much easier installation.
The new software will have built-in Bitcoin wallets for users. Acquiring and storing Bitcoin can still be a challenge and we wanted the platform to meet users earlier in the game. We are unable to set up a full exchange to facilitate the buying and selling of Bitcoin but we can help users with storage by building a custom wallet into the app.
Apart from being further decentralized, the new version will also support Tor, giving users more privacy. An ideological pillar we share with many of our users is that people have a right to privacy in their daily lives, a principle that has gotten tangled up a bit since internet use has gone mainstream. We want buyers and sellers to have as much control over their online trade as possible.