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DarkMarket Team Win Toronto Bitcoin Expo Hackathon

| Published on April 22, 2014 at 12:04 BST

A team of developers has won the Bitcoin Expo hackathon in Toronto with DarkMarket, an innovative peer-to-peer market open to everyone, everywhere.

Part of the team came from Airbitz, best known for the upcoming Airbitz wallet, a cloud-based solution with client-side encryption that aims to maximise security. The wallet project has web, Android and even iOS versions. The Airbitz team was backed by Amir Taaki and Pablo Martin from the Dark Wallet and libbitcoin projects.

A P2P market for everyone

Dark Wallet developer Amir Taaki delivered the hackathon presentation, though he forgot to mention exactly what the team hacked. That was left to Airbitz developer William Swanson, who explained the DarkMarket concept in detail:

DarkMarket is a decentralised P2P marketplace which cannot be shut down. It can be joined by anyone and in many respects it looks rather mature, with identity and reputation rankings, seller pages, multisig escrow, private messaging and privacy features.

DarkMarket is not envisioned as a black market for illicit goods. It is designed to level the playing field and help out emerging markets. The Attack Surface blog explains:

“The free market is any trade unregulated by the state. The term 'black market' arises from the inability of the state to see and thereby control trade, but applies equally to trade over which the state asserts no control. In a free market each exchange is a voluntary agreement between two parties.”

Hackathon winnings used for development

The blog cites World Bank research which found a strong correlation between formal account penetration and GDP per capita.

The results indicate that people in wealthier nations are more likely to rely on banks. Thus, businesses in developed markets would lose their competitive advantage if similar services were available in every market.

At the same time, a P2P market could – in theory – reduce the regulatory burden, allowing businesses to reduce their costs and improve competitiveness. Attack Surface concluded:

“The catch is that free markets do not exist on a large scale. The means of exchange itself is heavily regulated. In order to trade freely one must either accept unreasonable risk by lugging around piles of cash or join the heavily regulated financial system, with all of its various financial and privacy costs. [Cryptocurrency] is disrupting this model by enabling trade that does not rely on 'formal accounts'. People can trade in cash on a larger scale.”

Having stolen the show and walked off with $20,000 in bitcoins, the team say they will use their hackathon winnings to further develop libbitcoin, a project headed by Taaki and Martin. Some aspects of libbitcoin will be used in the development of Airbitz wallet.

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