Brian Hoffman

OpenBazaar – Peer-To-Peer Commerce, Third-Party Arbitration, Ricardian Contracts

What Bitcoin did for money, OpenBazaar is trying to achieve for commerce. Born as a fork of the Dark Market project, OpenBazaar aims to facilitate online trade by removing unneeded middlemen. Built as an open source protocol, users simply install the application on their computer to gain access to marketplaces available on the network. From the app, they may also place items or services for sale by creating “Ricardian contracts”, which get propagated to the network and made accessible to everyone to see. The protocol, which uses Bitcoin as a means of payments, utilises multi-signature transactions. This makes it possible for transacting parties to include third-party arbitrators, who may intervene in the event of a dispute. We talked to Brian Hoffman, the project’s Lead Developer, about this paradigm-shifting project and the potential it has to disrupt person-to-person marketplaces such as eBay. Currently in beta, OpenBazaar is due for a full release in Q1-Q2 of 2015.

Topics we discussed in this episode
  • History and current status of the project
  • Mechanics of a simple transaction on OpenBazaar
  • Ricardian contracts
  • OpenBazaar’s proposed arbitration model
  • Reputation and the important role it plays in peer-to-peer trading
  • Business models that may be threatened by this technology