The internet has changed the face of sales and trade. Companies can now advertise and sell their products through online catalogs, and customers can buy just about everything they need without ever leaving home. Online payment sites like PayPal have become common, and eBay and Amazon have become two of the most successful marketplaces in the world, despite their marketplace presence being solely virtual.
A more recent development in the world of online trade is the introduction of Bitcoin. The online payment system was developed in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto, and facilitates peer-to-peer trade through the use of a software-based unit of payment known as a bitcoin. Bitcoins have been referred to as virtual or digital currency, and can be exchanged for cash like any other money form.
Because payments are made peer-to-peer, there is no centralized regulation of bitcoin purchases. To accommodate bitcoin trading, a new online market has hit the web. OpenBazaar, though currently still in beta testing, is “an open source project to create a decentralized network for commerce online – using Bitcoin,” according to their website. Essentially, the program will allow users to cut out the middleman when making transactions, saving them from the fees Amazon and eBay charge for listing products to sell.
Because OpenBazaar is completely decentralized, the program is downloaded onto users’ private computers. This means trading and exchanges can happen with virtually no restrictions, regulations, or hidden fees. A buyer and seller communicate directly, negotiate a deal, and make that deal. A third party notary supervises the deal and ensures both buyer and seller honor the terms of the negotiation.
OpenBazaar is set to simplify trade in a way that has not been seen since the advent of the internet. The lack of regulation and centralization also means OpenBazaar will last as long as its users need it, and it can be used for whatever users choose to sell. If it surpasses expectations in beta testing, then OpenBazaar will be here to stay.