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OpenBazaar began life as a project called DarkMarket, built at a Toronto Bitcoin Hackathon in 2014 by Amir Taaki. Built shortly after the fall of Silk Road, which was the original darknet market to accept Bitcoin, DarkMarket was intended to stop future darknet businesses from failing in the very way as centralized darknet businesses like Silk Road did. At the time, Taaki said that the purpose of the software was to decentralize darknet markets, much in the very way BitTorrent decentralized music and file sharing after centralized software such as Napster had been shut down.
The new working release of OpenBazaar 2.0 introduces the much-anticipated support for Tor. OpenBazaar 1.0 did not run with Tor because it worked with the UDP protocol, which modeled privacy issues through IP leaks when utilized over the Tor network. The latest beta version of the software gives more tools for stores, including more transportation options, inventory management features, and permits for variations of listed products. “Our goal with OpenBazaar 2.0 is to get it to be, to the exclusion of using bitcoin, … an identical reality of what you’d see on Etsy. I think the 2.0 is close to that,” OB1 CEO Brian Hoffman said in February. The new version also adds support for 3rdparty search providers, such as Duo, which give better search results. Users of the new beta version will still be able to explore listings created on OpenBazaar version 1.0.
Under version 2.0 of OpenBazaar, stores will no longer want to always be online in order for the market to be accessible to users and for orders to be placed. This is because the new iteration of OpenBazaar relies on the peer-to-peer InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a decentralized web hosting program. With IPFS, everyone who attends the store also hosts it, allowing offline stores and making it harder, if not practically impossible, to shut down a store. Another new highlight enabled in OpenBazaar 2.0 is the Shapeshift Shifty Button, which allows users to buy products using cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin, such as Monero, Ethereum, DASH, ZCash, or any other coin backed by Shapeshift. The new beta also adds its own built-in Bitcoin wallet, which gives it even easier for users to make transactions. The combined Bitcoin wallet supports Segregated Witness Segwit transactions, which is anticipated to reduce transaction fees for payments made on OpenBazaar 2.0.
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