The beta version of OpenBazaar is planned for release this weekend. The software will create a purely p2p marketplace, where goods are sold solely with p2p currency, bitcoin.
It goes a step beyond the darknet, the former home of Silk Road, where users need to download specialized software in order to access sites. It is more comparable to Bittorrent, a p2p file sharing platform. Similarly, OpenBazaar is a p2p e-commerce platform that doesn’t involve any central servers. The software, along with a database of the marketplace, is downloaded to your computer.
Trust is gained through a review-based reputation system. It is also enforced, in the absence of a 3rd party escrow, via a “notary” who must sign off on every transaction along with one out of the two parties.
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There are, however, different ways of viewing what may become of such a marketplace long-term, considering its anticipated high demand for drug dealings. Sam Patterson, operations lead, says, “We’re not the ‘Super Silk Road.’ We’re trying to replace eBay in a better form.”
But DarkMarket creator Amir Taaki sees it differently:
“I think it’s intellectually dishonest to try and convince yourself that black market activity isn’t a big part of it. People want to buy the things you can’t buy on eBay like guns, drugs, or pornography.”
Indeed, founder Brian Hoffman concedes that he’s ready to leave the project if the marketplace, once in user hands and out of his control, becomes overrun with contraband.