OpenBazaar, a cryptocurrency-based online marketplace, may experience some significant expansions in the near future. On December 20th, OpenBazaar’s lead backend developer, Chris Pacia, took the time to answer questions on the /r/btc subreddit. In addition to revealing a deadline for slated features, he also hinted that the marketplace may soon branch out and provide several new types of applications.
OpenBazaar is an online marketplace that runs on a feeless and uncensorable peer-to-peer network. Unlike Amazon and eBay, which enforce their own rules and take a cut of user sales, OpenBazaar is unable to interfere with its users in any way. As a result, it does not regulate its users or charge fees (although cryptocurrencies do have their own built-in transaction fees).
So far, OpenBazaar has gained over 13,000 users, and the high level of user freedom it provides is facilitated by its desktop app. But the reach of OpenBazaar will soon be expanding: Pacia revealed that a mobile app will be available “early next year” and stated that a “big new version” with support for multiple cryptocurrencies will be released soon.
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However, the more notable―and more tentative―reveal was the fact that OpenBazaar may introduce a number of derivative applications. “We’ve thought about spin-off apps,” Pacia said, and confirmed that a social network could be one of those apps. This would exist alongside other blockchain-based social networks like Peepeth and Steemit.
One commenter raised the possibility of a decentralized replacement for Patreon, which has been experiencing controversy over user bans and changes to its fee model. Pacia responded that he had been “thinking through how [that] could work,” and invited anyone who is interested in building an app to contact the team.
Blockchain apps hold a lot of promise, but so far, many have had difficulty attracting and retaining users. Sometimes, this is due to hype at launch that tapers out — as was the case with CryptoKitties. Sometimes, the business model of an app only requires it to be accessed intermittently — such as the Ethereum-based prediction market Augur, which experiences usage spikes when people place bets during major events.
This phenomenon seems to affect OpenBazaar: it is a marketplace, and not every user buys or sells on it all of the time. Even with over 13,000 total users, it has only had 300 active users in the past week. Nevertheless, OpenBazaar’s plan to branch out in new ways is certainly a unique strategy; whether it succeeds in the long run remains to be seen.
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