The highly anticipated launch of OpenBazaar has kept the Bitcoin community on their toes for quite some time. Some bitcoin users suspect, and for many, hope, that OpenBazaar will be an anonymous and untraceable marketplace for illicit buyers, as the Silk Road once was. However, OpenBazaar is growing to be a more refined, robust, secure and efficient version of eBay.

When OpenBazaar was first introduced to the community as “Dark Market” by programmer and bitcoin enthusiast, Amir Taaki, at a Bitcoin Hackathon in Toronto, bitcoin enthusiasts viewed the concept of a decentralized and encrypted online marketplace as a technological sensation, since this meant that the online marketplace would be free from censorship, government control, tight regulations on sellers, and high transaction fees. More importantly, many people believed that OpenBazaar would serve as an untraceable marketplace in which sellers and buyers have absolute control of the products.

Decentralized commerce a reality

As a result, the global phenomenon of a decentralized marketplace attracted the likes of prominent venture capital firms, including Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, that led US$1 million in funding, which would allow core developers to build a commercial company called OB1, to bootstrap adoption of “decentralized commerce.”

“OpenBazaar—aided by OB1—can become the platform which makes decentralized commerce online a reality,” said the OpenBazaar team back in June 2015.

The continuous development of the OpenBazaar platform and core software led by the OB1 team enabled OpenBazaar to reach its important technological milestones over the past year, moving it closer to a full launch.

OpenBazaar logo

OB1 mainstream approach

As development continued, the OpenBazaar team were geared towards developing the platform into a more refined and robust version of eBay, instead of building a decentralized marketplace, like the Silk Road, in which users trade illicit goods and services. In June 2015, Cointelegraph reported that OpenBazaar is targeting unhappy users from eBay and Amazon, and offering them a more efficient and secure online e-commerce platform.

The mainstream approach of the OB1 team enabled the platform to target a larger user base and online population, allowing the OpenBazaar platform to scale into a major online marketplace. One of the features or options of OpenBazaar that eliminates the possibility of selling illicit goods and services on the platform is the display of IP addresses. Users can pull data from the OpenBazaar API and view IP addresses of both the buyers and sellers. Anyone selling illicit products on the platform can be discovered and identified by government agencies. Furthermore, bitcoin, which is the main payment tool used by the OpenBazaar platform is not anonymous by nature. Due to the emergence of bitcoin surveillance and analysis tools such as Elliptic, bitcoin transactions can be traced back to their origin.

Rather than developing and branding itself as the new Silk Road, OpenBazaar is growing into a mainstream online platform that could compete with e-commerce giants like Amazon and eBay.