9. Frequently Asked Questions


How does OpenBazaar work?

OpenBazaar is a different way to do online commerce. Instead of visiting a website, you download and install a program on your computer that directly connects you to other people looking to buy and sell goods and services with you. This peer to peer network isn't controlled by any company or organization - it's a community of people who want to engage in trade directly with each other.

How are there no fees or restrictions?

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.

How do I create a store and sell items?

Download the program when it becomes available (late 2015 is the goal). Install it and it will show you how to set up a store in just a couple minutes.

Why is Bitcoin the only supported payment method?

Bitcoin is used because of its unique benefits over other payment methods. Just like OpenBazaar, there are no fees (or very small ones) to use Bitcoin, and there's no permission required to send or receive Bitcoin either. Bitcoin also allows for an escrow system that is very secure. Bitcoin gives people more control over their own money, and this fits in perfectly with OpenBazaar, a tool designed to give people back control over their own online trade.

Does OpenBazaar cost anything?

No... and it never will.

Does it cost anything to list items on the network?

No... and it never will.

Do I need to be online to sell items?

At this stage, yes. When you create a contract for an item, you need to keep your node online for others to be able to download your contracts and place order.

In the future, contracts will be embedded into the distributed hash table (DHT) and shared by nearby nodes on the network over a period of a few days. This will create a temporary cache of contracts that can be accessed without the merchant needing to be online. In addition, orders will be encrypted and embedded into the DHT and shared by nodes so that the merchant can access orders even if the buyer isn't online.

Can I get a notification when my item has received an order, or when my order has been processed?

No, but this is an important feature we will be working on in the future.

Is there a mobile application for OpenBazaar?

Not yet.

Will I need to run a node to browse or buy things from OpenBazaar?

There are some emerging third party services that will act as a search engine for browsing listings on OpenBazaar, such as BazaarBay.

You will need to run a node to buy items from users on OpenBazaar at this stage. You can use services such as Provistor that faciliate running a node.

Payments without Bitcoin

Can I buy and sell things with altcoins instead of Bitcoin?

Yes, but using a third party exchange such as Shapeshift. Altcoin support is not built into the client.

Can I buy and sell things with fiat currency?

Yes, but using a third party exchange like Coinbase, Circle, CoinJar etc.

Illicit Items

Is this a new Silk Road?

Absolutely not. The Silk Road was a centralized platform, controlled directly by a small group who ran it for profit. The marketplace was built specifically for a small subset of trade: illicit goods.

OpenBazaar is entirely different. It’s a decentralized platform, not controlled by anyone, and not run for profit. It’s not being built for any subset of trade, but gives anyone in the world the power to buy and sell any type of goods and services with anyone else, using Bitcoin.

OpenBazaar isn’t Silk Road - version 2, it’s E-Commerce - version 2.

How will you keep illicit goods off of OpenBazaar?

OpenBazaar is a protocol for trading goods online, and a decentralized network for people to communicate with each other. Since the network isn’t centrally controlled (by us or anyone), we cannot directly prevent people from selling illicit goods.

The platform uses a reputation and rating system, as well as allowing reputable third parties help manage trade. We expect these checks and balances will strongly encourage legitimate trade on the network.

Sellers on the OpenBazaar network host their own products and are therefore directly responsible for complying with local laws (and their own conscience) when listing items or services. Users engaged in illicit activity cannot hide behind a third party service.

The world doesn’t have a standard protocol for trading goods and services online, nor does it have a network to share information about those goods and services. OpenBazaar finally creates a protocol and network that is free and open for all. As such, we expect that the use of OpenBazaar will largely reflect how society trades at large - almost entirely legitimate, positive trade with a small portion of people using it for illicit activity. Those that attempt to sell illicit material on OpenBazaar do so at significant risk to themselves.

What about OpenBazaar’s beginnings as Dark Market?

Dark Market was a winning entry in a Toronto hackathon in April 2014. Following the release of the source code on Github, the developers of Dark Market decided to discontinue the project. A few days later, Brian Hoffman forked the project to continue development. Brian renamed the project to OpenBazaar, which reflected a shift in vision to create a free and open marketplace for all goods and services.

Since April 2014, we’ve seen OpenBazaar change substantially from the original Dark Market project. Only a small amount of the original code remains, and the majority of the features have been built by the OpenBazaar community, including the use of Ricardian Contracts, HD signing keys, and kademlia DHT.