For those coin enthusiasts deeply entrenched in the cryptocurrency world, you’re probably extremely familiar with the fees associated with buying products or services with any sort of coin. Almost every exchange available has some sort of price for the cost of using their platform to either buy or sell, especially if it involves cryptocurrency—except for one platform known as OpenBazaar.
What is it?
OpenBazaar is an online marketplace where users can create a virtual store to sell any sort of product that they would like. Shoppers can browse these stores and make a myriad of purchases using only cryptocurrencies—all of which goes to the owner of the shop because OpenBazaar doesn’t charge any fees on either end. And just like any other site, the seller can still chat with customers and customize their store to suit their needs but unlike most other stores, there are no listing/selling fees and the seller doesn’t have to have a bank account set up to receive their payment. The site currently accepts Bitcoin, BitcoinCash, LiteCoin, and Zcash for purchases.
All of this is possible because OpenBazaar is based on open sourced software, meaning not only is it all free to users, but also no one entity controls it. And the developers who do work on the app are very open about their work and all the developer calls are available for anyone to view and listen to on their website under the section titled ‘blogs.’ This open concept is much different from the current state of the US economy where almost every business is owned by another business, and there is usually a lot of secrecy behind acquisitions and business changes.
All of this sounds great right? It is, so it is very sad that OpenBazaar has begun the beginning stages of shutting down. Although removing the middleman removes fees for buyers and sellers, updating and maintaining the app is not free for the developers. Until now, OpenBazaar has received all of their funding from internal sources and angel investors. And those sources are about to run out at the end of 2021.
When the app first launched back in 2014, the developers had hope that the app would pave the way for a market of cryptocurrency shopping, and receive more funding along the way. Sadly, there were many growing pains and costs associated with building this sort of app from the ground up, and it didn’t quite draw the audience, nor the funding, they had hoped. If more funding isn’t found immediately, the app will be shutting down.
As much as a free, open source, marketplace sounds, OpenBazaar ran into the same problem that many cryptocurrency companies do, finding, and maintaining an audience, can be difficult if not impossible. The world still hasn’t quite warmed to the idea of cryptocurrencies, and many people don’t understand how they work. And for those that do understand, often times their knowledge is limited, or if they do have a vast knowledge, they aren’t interested in using it to shop in an open source marketplace in their free time. The current userbase for OpenBazaar is small, so even as they appealed to their users for donations, it simply isn’t enough to save them.
Not only that, but the world, and the economy, have gone through a great many changes since 2014. Many people now are unemployed, or about to be, and simply aren’t focusing on donating to save a failing company. And many individuals who would be viable angel investors are tightening their purse strings as outcomes look bleak. As September comes to a close, it doesn’t look like the economy is going to go back to its former glory just yet, in fact, once unemployment funds run out for the 10% of the country (USA) there’s likely to be a further economic dip.
What do I do?
If you’re a current user of OpenBazaar, they recommend withdrawing your funds immediately, as starting October 1st, there is a possibility, at some point before the end of the year 2020, you will no longer be able to open the Haven App on iPhone and android devices. Further directions will follow as the developers instruct users how to liquidize any funds in nodes they may have. All of the software involved in the making of OpenBazaar, as well as additional software for an open source search engine, will still be available to the public, so there’s a possibility another company could pick up on the technology and run a similar marketplace, but who knows when, and if that’ll happen. The company is currently accepting donations if this is something you feel strongly about and would like to support. Otherwise they will cease all functionality by the end of 2020.
Even if you’ve never used the app before, and it sounds like something you may be interested in, head over to their website and consider making a cryptocurrency donation. The developers have made it very easy and you are able to simply send any donations directly to their cryptocurrency wallets. You can make donations in Ethereum, Bitcoin, BitcoinCash and Zcash. You can follow the progress of donations in live time via the developers twitter account @openbazaar. Hopefully enough users will donate to keep the platform alive and operating for many years to come.
There is a possibility that we are simply too late to save a market like OpenBazaar, but hopefully if the word gets out, a similar app with the same sort of use case will eventually be developed to allow people to buy and sell goods using cryptocurrency without the massive fees that are often associated with this service. In the meantime, there are other apps which allow you to buy good with fees that can be used if you’d really like to spend your cryptocurrency on products.
For those of you that are new to the cryptocurrency world, this article may leave you with more questions than it answers. For more information on cryptocurrencies in general and the places you can spend your coins, check out the free guides offered on MintDice.com.