I’ve had my eye on OpenBazaar for quite a while now and at the start of April of this year (2016) it went live.
You should check it out, but a short summary would be that it’s a distributed on-line marketplace. It uses bitcoin for it’s currency. Anyone can join the network and sell their products on-line for free. The software is free, setting up a shop is free, accepting payments are free. All you need is an Internet connection and a computer.
To run a shop (not just be a shopper) you’d probably want your shop available all the time, and that will require running OpenBazaar on server. However hosting a shop would be very inexpensive. I’ve already seen hosting companies offering OpenBazaar hosting packages. I’m sure OpenBazaar hosting will be commoditized and very easy to setup very soon (if it isn’t already).
I was chomping at the bit to try out OpenBazaar, so I figured I should buy something. There wasn’t a whole lot of sale right when it launched, so my options were limited. I wanted something physical, costing more then $10 but less then $50. Eventually I settled on a 1 ounce silver bar.
I’m afraid I probably over paid. With shipping I paid 0.06178382 BTC (28.11 USD). At the time I’m writing this, silver is worth about $17.46 an ounce. I’m sure if I had ordered more, the shipping would have been a lot smaller percentage. This is actually the first time I’ve bought precious metals in something other then jewelry form. Maybe it’s normal to pay that much of premium for this sort of thing.
Aside from feeling like the price was a little high, the whole process could not have been smoother. Shortly after I placed my order I got a confirmation from the seller that my order had been received and shipped. A few days later, the silver bar showed up in my mailbox.
The way OpenBazaar is setup now, you can tell they are targeting people who’d be selling on Etsy or maybe eBay or Craigslist. There’s a ‘search’ feature that looks like it has potential but I’m not sure what would happen if someone hooked up an e-commerce system with 10,000 products. I don’t know how people would find what they were looking for.
If you want to just browse what’s for sale without having to download the software, there’s a site called BazaarBay that works pretty well.
Here’s my page on OpenBazaar. It probably won’t work because I’m not running the software most of the time. My next OpenBazaar project will be to setup a server. Then, maybe, try selling something.
OpenBazaar still feels a little buggy and slow, but some of that might just be the distributed nature of it. One thing I haven’t been able to get to work, even after some trying, is OpenBazaar’s address system. They are using something called OneName. It’s pretty cool idea, basically a distributed DNS system on a blockchain. I have a profile setup on OneName and I was able to verify my identity in various ways but I haven’t been able to link it with my OpenBazaar ID.
OneName is powered by a something called blockstack which also looks cool. So many exciting blockchain applications, so little time.