Cryptocurrencies give us a decentralized financial system. OpenBazaar is a decentralized commerce system.
A merchant can log onto OpenBazaar and post a listing for an item–for example, a t-shirt that I want to sell for $15. My item listing will spread throughout the OpenBazaar P2P network. A shopper can download the OpenBazaar desktop application and see my listing for a t-shirt. The shopper can pay me $15 in bitcoin, and I will send the t-shirt to their address.
If I were selling that shirt on Amazon, the corporation would take a cut of that transaction. OpenBazaar has no transaction costs–so users get to save some money. However, users also miss out on the benefits of a corporate marketplace.
Amazon makes sure that the seller will send the item to the buyer, and makes sure that the buyer pays the seller. On OpenBazaar, an escrow system is needed to place money in the hands of a neutral third party until the goods are delivered. Amazon ensures that the distributor sends the item to the customer. On OpenBazaar, users need to figure out how to send the goods to each other.
Brian Hoffman was the first developer to start working on OpenBazaar. The project has grown significantly since his initial commit, and OpenBazaar now has buyers, sellers, and open source committers. There is a clear desire for an open system of commerce. Brian is also the CEO of OB1, a company that provides services on top of OpenBazaar. OpenBazaar is a protocol–and other companies will undoubtedly emerge to build on top of it as well.
In our conversation, Brian discussed how OpenBazaar works–the peer-to-peer protocol, the escrow system, the dispute resolution, and the open source community management. It is a fascinating, unique project, and I hope you learn something about it from this episode.
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