OpenBazaar Unveils Plans for Tor Support, Mobile App


The distributed bitcoin-powered marketplace app OpenBazaar has published a long-term roadmap in a bid to become a global leader in censorship-resistant trade.

Since launch, OpenBazaar has seen a wide variety of vendors sign up to sell goods including caramel waffles, chili peppers and cannabis seeds. The project grew out of an earlier effort, dubbed DarkMarket, that sought to build a marketplace that, through its distributed nature, could not be completely shut down.

Now, the team behind OpenBazaar, according to the new roadmap, is expected to seek expansive growth in the months ahead.

Plans include the deployment of private listings, job postings, a built-in social network, and integrations with the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) and the anonymizing Tor network. The team is also planning to release a mobile app.

The roadmap explains:

“OpenBazaar is and always was a mammoth project with an ambitious goal to become the backbone of global commerce. Every marathon begins with the first step.”

Formally launched in April of this year, the distributed marketplace quickly found supporters, with developers stating at the time that the software had been downloaded 25,000 times its first day in business.

By the time the app and its parent company, OB1, had swept the Blockchain Awards earlier this month at ConDesk’s Consensus 2016 blockchain conference, it was downloaded more than 110,000 times.

Function, content plans ahead

Immediate goals, according to the roadmap, focus on improving the customer experience of the app as well as onboarding other types of purchasable content.

The next three months will see the addition of “advanced digital goods” including music. Additionally, OpenBazaar plans to add support for registering a blockchain ID within the application.

Other features planned for the coming three months include email notifications, webhooks, cloud-storage backups, enhanced order and inventory management, a more intuitive user-interface, and an improved sales control center.

On the one-year timeline, OpenBazaar’s open-source contributors have planned several “big ticket items” that stand out as potential news-makers in their own right.

The contributors plan to build the InterPlanetary File System as an “extension” of the existing network. Allowing functionality similar to BitTorrent, the IPFS integration will let visitors to a store download and seed its data for other users.

Possible benefits include increased censorship resistance, and more persistent content even if the vendor closes the application.

“This means that the more people who visit your store, the more your data will be replicated across the network,” according to the post.

Support for Tor, mobile

To provide enhanced privacy for OpenBazaar shoppers, the contributors also plan to integrate with the Tor network, designed to facilitate anonymous online browsing by routing data through a web of computers worldwide.

While details of the process are vague, the likeliest route to early integration is the creation of “onion only” nodes that operate as hidden services available exclusively to other Tor nodes, according to the developers.

Though the roadmap acknowledges the solution isn’t ideal because it will result in a segregated Tor network, a time-table for a “dual stack” configuration has yet to be offered.

One of the more complicated features OpenBazaar expects to roll-out over the next year is a mobile application integrated with third-party messaging bots, including Slack, WeChat, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Kik and others designed to relay messages from “remote” nodes.

“We aim to develop a client-only mobile application, which would empower users to fully manage their node remotely and securely,” the post explains.

In the long-term, the OpenBazaar team says it wants to improve the existing reputation system, add more functionality to the marketplace shopping cart, and create a plug-in system to allow third-party development on top of the base infrastructure.

The team also pointed to plans to develop an in-house contracting system.

“Contract flexibility will allow for an expansion of OpenBazaar to facilitate any type of complex transaction,” the post states.

Image via OpenBazaar




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