How Insane Is Turms MAD Stores!

The Upcoming, Completely Decentralized Online Marketplace

Ananya Agarwal
Aug 6, 2019 · 4 min read

MAD Stores is an online marketplace like ebay or Amazon, but it’s completely decentralized — so there’s no central authority managing, supervising or controlling the marketplace. On MAD Stores buyers and sellers can remain anonymous, or at least pseudonymous; that is, they’re only known by their Ethereum addresses (or ENS names). All communications between buyers and sellers is encrypted via Turms Anonymous Message Transport.

How MAD Stores Works

The heart of MAD Stores is an Ethereum smart contract call MAD Escrow. To offer an item for sale a seller needs to set aside bond funds (called Wrapped DAI). When a buyer wants to buy an item he sends a message to the seller using Turms Anonymous Message Transport, which is integrated into MAD Stores, and deposits the product’s price into the MAD Escrow, plus an extra 50% of the product’s price as a bond. At the same time the smart contract automatically deposits the seller’s bond into the escrow, which is also equal to one half of the product’s price. At this point either the buyer or the seller can back out of the deal and retrieve all their funds.

If the seller approves the purchase then the escrow is locked, and the seller is committed to deliver the product by a specified date. Once the escrow is locked the buyer has all the control — if he receives the product then he can release the escrow, which returns the bonds to the respective parties, and pays the purchase price to the seller. Or the buyer can burn the escrow, in which case he forfeits his own bond, but also causes the seller to lose the entire purchase price, plus the seller’s bond. The reason it’s called “MAD Escrow” is that the only way to punish the seller is for the buyer to forfeit his own bond — MAD stands for Mutually Assured Destruction!

Insane Applications!

The test version of MAD Stores was announced just a few days ago and almost immediately people began creating stores to test the purchase process. The instructions for setting up a store are pretty straight-forward. To check out the store that I setup, just load MAD Stores; then in the search filter enter my ENS name, “ananyalasagna.eth” in the address search box.

My store is pretty tame. But as you might expect, the ability to sell items anonymously leads some people to create stores that are much more “interesting.” For example, you can find these provocative vendors among the stores:

  • Selling US dollars in exchange for DAI
    An anonymous ATM — you pay for the “product” (US dollars) through MAD Stores, and the seller sends you the dollars by mail.
  • Celebrity look-alike escort services
    This is under the category of “Physically Delivered Services IRL”. Enough said.
  • Marijuana
    Even though marijuana is legal in most places, apparently the regulatory burden of running a conventional marijuana outlet makes MAD Stores an attractive alternative.
  • Tax-free sales
    How can name-brand items can be sold on MAD Stores for effectively less than retail, or sometimes even wholesale prices? Some sellers aren’t hiding the fact that they’re not planning to pay sales tax.
  • Software Product Licenses
    Someone has access to product-keys for popular Microsoft software. If they’re sold on MAD Stores, then I have no doubt they’ll work — that being said, I suspect that the seller is not officially affiliated with Microsoft Corp.

Note that all of these stores have been set up in the Ropsten Testnet version of MAD Stores — The real Mainnet version isn’t released yet. But even though these stores are only for testing purposes, it gives us an inkling of how people are planning to eventually use the final version.

The Future of MAD Stores

Being anonymous, MAD Stores will naturally attract gray-area vendors. But my great hope for MAD Stores is that it will primarily be used for more conventional product sales by all people who value decentralization and privacy. In the interim, before MAD Stores achieves widespread adoption, it could be that these gray-area stores will be the majority of early adopters.

If you have something to sell, or if you value decentralization and privacy in your purchases, or if you’re just curious, check out the test version of MAD Stores (full instructions are here). Remember, Turms token holders will earn a small percentage of every sale on MAD Stores, and right now the 10 best comments and/or suggestions are being rewarded with 1000 Turms tokens. You can send your comments using Turms AMT to imontoya.eth, or using old fashioned email to alejandro.Diaz.666@protonmail.com. As always if you have a comment for me, you can send it using Turms AMT to my Ethereum address, ananyalasagna.eth.

Ananya Agarwal

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