Shop and Sell

On OpenBazaar

January 2019

The real answer to companies like Amazon who dominate the online marketplace will be found in the creation of radically decentralized, online markets, where there is no one who owns that market and thus no one to spy on you. Believe it or not, a radically decentralized market already exists. Welcome to OpenBazaar.

[Note: As of January 15, 2021, OpenBazaar will cease to exist. The software remains, but the underlying financial infrastructure turned out to be too expensive to maintain.]

OpenBazaar is an open source software system that you can use for the buying and selling of goods. You simply download the software to your computer and then either open a store or use the software to search for stores and products.

Because the software is under the control of whoever who downloads it, and because it is not owned or controlled by anyone else, there are no transaction fees for either buying or selling. Let me repeat that: there are no transaction fees. All sales take place directly between individual buyers and sellers with no one controlling or knowing about those transactions other than the buyer and seller.

Of course, this also means that there is no one who is responsible for ensuring that a particular seller will actually send you the goods that you just bought or that a particular buyer will actually pay the seller for those goods. However, there is an escrow system, which you can pay for, which will hold payments until deliveries are confirmed and will provide arbitration for disputed sales. However, if you already trust either the seller or the buyer, there is no requirement to use that escrow service. And people are welcome to set up competitive escrow services.

Now there is one feature of OpenBazaar that currently ensures that the average online buyer will not soon be interested in using this platform.  All payments within the OpenBazaar system are made in cryptocurrencies, with Bitcoin being the default cryptocurrency.

The organization that created the OpenBazaar software makes money by selling software add-ons to those merchants who want more sophisticated controls over their stores. As of November 2018, OpenBazaar had more than 100,000 nodes on their network, with more than 20,000 of those nodes being stores and the rest customers.