Remember what P2P technology did to the music industry? Online marketplaces are beginning to go through a similar transformation. Imagine if people could easily host their own stores by downloading a piece of software and then sell items directly to people interested in buying them? This effectively cuts out the middleman and puts the seller in direct control of the items they’re selling. OpenBazaar is that software. You can even run your store through Tor if you want to anonymize your traffic. OpenBazaar was created in response to the takedown of the SilkRoad on Tor. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to this decentralized model. OpenBazaar uses “notaries” as a safeguard to protect both the buyer and seller.
Here’s how the notary works. The seller will create a contract and digitally sign the terms. The buyer then purchases and signs the contract. The contract is then sent to the notary, who also signs it. After all 3 signatures are obtained, a copy of the contract is sent out to all 3 parties. The buyer then deposits the funds into a multisignature Bitcoin address. The seller will ship the goods after the funds land in the notary account. If there is an issue, then the notary can be messaged and asked to intervene to either refund the buyer or credit the seller. This is a simplified version of how it works, and the process will most likely improve over time. If taking down the SilkRoad was a monumental task for the FBI, imagine if every seller on the darknet had their own store. This type of technology is only going to improve and it’s going to make it very difficult for law enforcement to continue fighting the war on drugs.