The Next Generation of E-Commerce
An Interview with Richard Crites, Founder & CEO of OmniBazaar
OmniBazaar is a cryptocurrency-enabled, peer-to-peer, e-commerce marketplace.
Due to its revolutionary ideas in the e-commerce sphere, OmniBazaar has been likened to the Uber or AirBnB of e-commerce.
What inspired you to found OmniBazaar?
Richard Crites: I had the idea that many people would eventually want to “barter for Bitcoins” as a way to get started in cryptocurrency. And, I could see the advantages of removing the middlemen and bankers from e-commerce. This led me to research, design and patent the OmniBazaar peer-to-peer-to-peer marketplace architecture.
What was the hardest challenge you faced building OmniBazaar?
RC: The hardest part of building OmniBazaar was getting it developed and working on a “shoe-string” budget. During most of the development process we “self-funded” the project. But, that has allowed us to announce and release a completed, working project instead of just an idea.
What cryptocurrencies do you favor yourself?
RC: I favor coins that are highly scalable. We chose to build OmniCoin on Graphene, the core technology found in Bitshares, Steem and EOS. We chose Graphene because it can scale to tens of thousands of transactions per second. Creating OmniCoin as an ERC-20 token would have been a lot easier but would not have provided the same ability to scale up to large numbers.
What do you see in the future of OmniBazaar?
RC: I believe OmniBazaar can be the “gateway” through which hundreds of millions or billions of people can get started with cryptocurrency. OmniBazaar allows billions of people who don’t have bank accounts to trade their products or services for cryptocurrencies. Bartering is also faster and easier than joining a cryptocurrency exchange and learning to trade fiat for crypto.
What do you think of current marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay?
RC: I think Amazon and eBay are too expensive and too restrictive for many sellers. First of all, you must have a bank account in order to sell on Amazon or similar sites. Many Amazon sellers complain about the high fees and totalitarian governance. And, I think these platforms invade user privacy too much. OmniBazaar saves sellers 90–100% of the fees they would pay Amazon or eBay. OmniBazaar does not require users to have a bank account or credit card. And buyers have more privacy. We don’t use “big data” to do “push” marketing.
Do you believe that the market is currently oversaturated with overvalued ICOs?
RC: I think there have been some excellent ICOs this year. However, I think the investor marketplace is becoming more selective and demanding. The days when a startup company can raise tens of millions of dollars with only “a good team and a bright idea” are coming to an end. That’s why we have waited until after we launched OmniBazaar and OmniCoin, after we got approval for our patent, and after we have gotten some traction with users. We believe this will make us stand out from the crowd and be attractive in an oversaturated and overpriced investor market.
What is OmniBazaar’s mission statement?
RC: Our mission is to be the world’s free-market venue “of the people, by the people and for the people”.
What is OmniBazaar’s plan to grow as a company?
RC: We plan to use the money we raise to provide users with additional features and functions. We believe a company only grows when it provides valuable services that are useful to a large number of people. We intend to become the “cryptocurrency gateway” for billions of people.
How do you view OmniBazaar’s current role in the crypto community?
RC: We see our role as one of bringing more legitimacy and wider acceptability to e-commerce in the “peer-to-peer” space. Most existing distributed marketplaces have developed anonymous and “hidden” services that can be used by black market sellers. We, on the other hand, have avoided IP obfuscation and “hidden services”. Instead, we have developed a system of “community policing” that will allow users to “down-vote” and remove listings for illegal products and services. We believe that professional Amazon and eBay “white-market” sellers will appreciate and gravitate toward our cleaner, ‘family-friendly” marketplace system.
Will OmniBazaar expand into further domains in the crypto eco-system?
RC: We plan to expand by offering a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency marketplace and a wide assortment of “stable coins”. We also intend to expand our presence in the “sharing economy” and “freelance” markets. And, we will be releasing mobile apps for Android and Apple in the near future.
What personal experiences have you had with cryptocurrency that affected OmniBazaar’s inception or growth?
RC: I was aware of Bitcoin in 2009. When I encountered it again in 2013, I immediately saw that it could solve some of the problems associated with barter networks and realized it was a perfect payment vehicle for a peer-to-peer marketplace.
Why is security so highly valued in OmniBazaar’s systems?
RC: Security is critical in any system where people buy and sell from each other. Everyone involved in a monetary transaction must be able to know that their funds are secure.
What impact does OmniBazaar have in the modern world?
RC: OmniBazaar is part of a large and growing movement to remove the middlemen from all aspects of daily life. Businesses like eBay, Uber and AirBnB have gotten people accustomed to “peer-to-peer” e-commerce transactions. Now, OmniBazaar is taking the next steps to decentralize these services and remove the middlemen and bankers. We believe that anything that can be decentralized will be decentralized in the next few years. And, we are proud to be leading the movement in that direction.