OpenBazaar has already begun to turn heads its way despite being only a few months old. Amidst several comparisons to the original Silk Road, it is clear that OpenBazaar is nothing like the infamous dark web market in many ways.
For one, the entire platform exists only on the Bitcoin blockchain and does not depend on any servers to run.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.
This makes it virtually impossible to pass through both by hackers and the authorities alike. There are a number of reasons why OpenBazaar has been termed as the future of e-commerce and a hero among its peers as it seeks to revolutionize online trading for good.
Part eBay, Part Silk Road
In a sense, the platform does borrow the format of eBay’s trading module in that buyers and sellers interact on a one-on-one basis without a third party getting involved in the transactions.
However, unlike eBay, there is no authoritative third party on the purported Silk Road successor and therefore, there are no listing charges or transaction charges.
The entire decentralized platform is comprised of pure P2P interactions. All the listings are hosted by the individual buyers and sellers, and all the monetary transactions take place on the Bitcoin network with no third party involved. OpenBazaar also does not store users’ transaction information.
The Silk Road bit comes when it comes to the type of listings that are predicted to show up on OpenBazaar soon enough.
Much like the heavy-hitting drug-based market Silk Road, it is only a matter of time before OpenBazaar follows in its footsteps, especially since the platform cannot be censored.
OpenBazaar has in fact been compared to major cell phone companies such as Verizon, who can do little to prevent illicit activities being aided by their users and are, thus not liable for anything.
OpenBazaar Turning into Silk Road Would Be Considered a Failure
CEO Brian Hoffman has always been clear about his stand on the illicit drug trade that was spawned by Ulbricht’s Silk Road.
He strongly wishes that the platform follows in the footsteps of Amazon and eBay despite the fact that he and his team can do little to stop the listing of illicit items on the website.
In one clear comparison, Hoffman said that the hundreds of millions, or possibly billions of dollars that were made off of the drug trade by Silk Road in all its years of operations were nothing compared to the collective amounts of money made in e-commerce every year.
His ambition is that the decentralized platform remains drug-free and oriented towards serving the greater good.
Hoffman believes that OpenBazaar is not just another market; rather it is the future of decentralized free trade.
Should it be successful and not taken down due to illicit activities like Silk Road, it has the potential to revolutionize trade forever.
Why OpenBazaar, Unlike Silk Road, Is Impenetrable
A lot has been said about OpenBazaar being virtually untouchable. Fundamentally, the platform operates on a completely different scale than Silk Road or any other darknet market, primarily because of its decentralized nature.
The open-source software market has no proprietor or authority figure, making it safer than Silk Road, which was full of scammers, and websites such as Oasis and the infamous Sheep Marketplace that performed an exit scam and went away with over $100 million of their users’ money.
The free market can be run on Tor, although it can just as easily run on the clearnet using any basic browser.
Clearly, the authorities cannot shut down the network in its entirety given that it runs on users’ machines rather than centralized servers.
As such, if a drug bust was to happen and the perpetrators’ websites gain access, this would not affect the rest of the OpenBazaar network.
Hoffman divulged that the peer-to-peer software that is in use is comparable to that of P2P file-sharing communications protocol, BitTorrent.
As such, there are no physical servers running the OpenBazaar network, making it perfectly decentralized.
On the subject of payments, the market uses Bitcoin as its primary form of transaction.
However, unlike Silk Road, users are able to choose their preferred arbitrary third party for transactions after forming unmanipulatable authenticated contracts called Ricardian Contracts.
The third party (a fellow user of the market) will then arbitrate the sale and only sign off on the funds if the buyer is completely satisfied with the product.
OpenBazaar is Here to Stay
Based on the operating protocol of the platform and the philosophy of its creators, comparing the decentralized OpenBazaar market to the highly centralized drug-based Silk Road market is nothing short of stereotyping a free market that holds so much promise for the future of e-commerce.
Whether drugs and illicit items will gradually fill the listings of the website only time will tell. For now, people are quite hopeful that the revolutionary free market has a lot to achieve.