A New Path for e-Commerce

Have you read East Commerce by author and ExO Consultant Marco Gervasi? If not, you may want to pick up a copy.


It’s a lovely account of the rise of e-commerce in China and how it compares to what has happened in the West. I devoured that book and enjoyed it very much. I work with Chinese clients and this really helped me understand certain aspects of Chinese business better. I have found myself referencing it many times since reading it a few months ago.

Well, imagine what has happened with e-Commerce in China by much bigger. Bigger than Alibaba, Amazon and every other centralized E-Commerce market combined offering to and receiving service to and from anyone anywhere with a device and internet connection.

Go ahead, be with that for a moment.

What would the market cap be on something like that? A trillion dollars? Something very interesting is brewing that made me think that of the book. It’s called OpenBazaar. Put simply OpenBazaar allows anyone, literally anyone without any centralized permissions or authority to be an e-commerce retailer in a global market place. Or, in their own words, "Decentralized marketplace for instantly trading with anyone using Bitcoin."

Here is an excerpt from an article on fee.org:

What if every person in the world, regardless of social status, language, or nationality, could open a retail store available to everyone, asking no one’s permission? What if no one could stand in that person’s way?
OpenBazaar, like the Bitcoin hydra itself, takes every advantage of the borderlessness and spontaneous order of digital spaces.It wasn’t possible 12 months ago, but it is today. — https://fee.org/articles/with-openbazzar-everyone-can-be-a-retailer-without-permission/

What if indeed! Well, I mentioned Marco's book because that's accounting of what has happened in China. This could be much bigger if it catches on and matures well.

The main site for this is https://openbazaar.org/ and their FAQ is very interesting reading indeed.

Here are a couple of gems.

Unlike eBay or other ecommerce platforms, OpenBazaar doesn’t require any fees to use. It is open source and free to download and use.
Users should expect to pay for services from third parties such as moderators in the case of a dispute. However, moderators aren’t forced to charge fees, nor are users forced to use moderators.
How can there be no fees?
Because there’s no company or organization running OpenBazaar, there’s no one to charge you fees to list your products and no one to register an account with. The “terms and conditions” of the trade are up to the buyer and seller individually, not a one-size-fits-all policy. It’s like buying or selling with someone in person — except you’re online.

Think that through… Carefully.

OpenBazaar isn’t a giant ecommerce site; it’s a group of people who all want to engage in peer to peer trade. If you want to talk with those people, you can by using the built-in chat function. Chat is encrypted end-to-end for user’s privacy. On any OpenBazaar page, you can message the owner of the page by clicking the “message” button.

Already various interfaces to the OpenBazaar are popping up such as:

BazaarBay, http://bazaarbay.org/
HostedBazaar, http://hostedbazaar.com/
Agoris Hosting Package, https://agoristhosting.com/openbazaar

Search engines are popping up and various mobile interfaces as well. It's all happening very quickly.

Perhaps most exciting is that they are working to include IPFS. This is huge because it will essentially create the potential equivalent of amazon, alibaba or google shopping but with centralized NO DATA CENTER. Think about that for a moment. One of the absolute largest costs of running a massive e-commerce empire will decentralize and dematerialize from the point of view of the seller. Amazing.

This type of thing is likely ruffling some big feathers. There will be challenges and growing pains. For example, guaranteeing payment and delivery (and returns omg). The OpenBazaar team says, "it’s important to choose a trustworthy moderator." But, if you look at this article, Secure Multi-Party Computations, from CACM on how to use bitcoin and the bitcoin blockchain to design a trustless lottery you can imagine a similar technique helping to solve that problem.

Much of the underlying technology is very new but it is also technologically extremely sound. So, this is different and potentially very disruptive indeed.

For Further Reading and Research:

OpenBazaar Tutorial, https://openbazaar.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/202587109-How-do-I-install-OpenBazaar-

Foundation for Economic Education Report on OpenBazaar, https://fee.org/articles/with-openbazzar-everyone-can-be-a-retailer-without-permission/

Open Bazaar Growing Fast with Major Upgrade on the Horizon, http://bravenewcoin.com/news/openbazaar-growing-fast-with-major-upgrades-on-the-horizon/

Open Bazaar High Level Roadmap, https://medium.com/@therealopenbazaar/openbazaar-roadmap-46b9e774f319#.qqggu7rqg