The startup behind OpenBazaar has released version 2.0 of its popular bitcoin-powered marketplace.
First launched in 2014, the software update marks a milestone for startup OB1, which bills its product as a decentralized eBay or Shopify for cryptocurrency users. And with an updated design that should make it easier for buyers and sellers to get started, three years later, the company may be closing in on its goal.
According to OB1 CEO Brian Hoffman, it's the user experience that's at the heart of this new design.
Hoffman told CoinDesk:
"We found very quickly that doing things in a decentralized fashion is not always super intuitive for people. You have to to design around it. You have to make it really really good."
The company announced a beta release of the update in September. While, at that point, the product was feature-complete, developers needed to find any bugs in all of the "weird edge cases," as Hoffman put it.
"Version 2.0 is just saying that this is stable enough to do real trades," he said.
So what's new? The most noticeable new feature is the smoother design and workflow. With version 2.0, the company has taken on board how people use the app and what they think about the product experience.
For example, if a user went to create a store in the old version, they would never have been asked for a bitcoin wallet address (they didn't actually need one until they closed a sale). This made sense from a development perspective, but it confused users. Now, OpenBazaar has a fully functional wallet built in.
Other features include updated search (in fact, there are three different search engines integrated so far, two by independent teams). Installation is easier than it was, and it's also integrated with The Onion Router (Tor) and the Interplanetary File System (IPFS), offering stronger privacy to store owners and shoppers, along with an improved infrastructure.
Looking ahead, the team is now working on mobile and web versions of the product. Also on the roadmap is allowing users to buy and sell with cryptocurrencies aside from bitcoin.
But it's the emphasis on usability, not technology, that Hoffman hopes will define the software going forward.
For sellers, Hoffman argues that "OpenBazaar is a simple way to get a store up and running that accepts bitcoin." For consumers, he said they can find things on OpenBazaar that aren't available anywhere else.
For users that tried it before but got frustrated, Hoffman is now urging them to come back, saying, "It was a super rough experience. It was our first cut."
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in OB1.
Market stalls image via Shutterstock; product images courtesy of OB1