The team behind the open-source, bitcoin-powered marketplace OpenBazaar has published the beta version of its forthcoming 2.0 release.
The launch, announced over the weekend, delivers a number of additions that developers outlined back in February. Among those is an integration with The Onion Router (Tor) network, enabling anonymous access to the marketplace network, as well as upgrades intended to boost overall up-times and access to storefronts.
It's a major development for the project, which seeks to decentralize online retailing in the way bitcoin decentralized value transfers. Back in February, Brian Hoffman, chief executive of OB1 (the startup behind the project), said that one of the goals for the 2.0 release was to make the user experience akin to popular e-commerce platforms like Etsy.
"Our goal with OpenBazaar 2.0 is to get it to be, with the exception of using bitcoin, ... an identical experience of what you’d see on Etsy. I think the 2.0 [version] is close to that," he said at the time.
The new OpenBazaar is built on the InterPlanetary File System, a protocol for decentralized file storage and sharing. This means that its listings can be re-uploaded, by other users, allowing purchases to be made even when a store isn't directly connected to the internet.
While it displays real listings of goods and services offered for real bitcoins, the 2.0 version of OpenBazaar is, as advertised, still in the beta phase. In a blog post accompanying the release, the team cautioned that the system tends to overestimate fees and contains others other bugs they are working to fix.
Third-party search engines such as Duo can now be accessed in the OpenBazaar client in the new version. Previously, users had use a separate browser to use such tools, and then connect to OpenBazaar when they wanted to make purchases.
The new version also adds tools for vendors such as variants (e.g., is that sweater size small, medium or large?), inventory tracking and expanded shipping options.
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in OB1, the company formed to further development of the OpenBazaar software.
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