Washington Sanchez, an OpenBazaar core developer and co-founder of the decentralized marketplace’s maintainer company OB1, confirmed as much on Reddit on Thursday, noting that preparations for Ethereum support were in the “final stages” and that Dai support would be following imminently.
As Sanchez, who also serves as OB1’s chief research officer, explained it:
“Our escrow smart contract to facilitate payments by ETH or ERC-20 tokens is complete and audited by Open Zeppelin (we’ll be publishing that soon).
It has been a monster effort to refactor OpenBazaar to be less intimately linked to Bitcoin and UTXO-based cryptocurrencies, but we are so excited for finally supporting this ecosystem.
Also Dai will be one of the first tokens available for payments, which I’m personally super excited for.”
Starting out with only bitcoin (BTC) payments, OpenBazaar later added support for further UTXO transaction model cryptocurrencies in bitcoin cash (BCH), litecoin (LTC), and Zcash (ZEC). The marketplace’s team explained earlier this year that it had “always been a requirement for any supported cryptocurrency to be architecturally similar to Bitcoin for [integration] to work properly.”
Notably, Ethereum is not UTXO-based but rather account-based. Thus OpenBazaar’s expansion to ether and tokens running atop Ethereum not only represents an expanding vision and structure but also the likely literal expansion of the marketplace’s activity itself, as the widened currency support will undoubtedly bring an influx of new Ethereum users.
Moreover, the market’s maintainers can now presumably consider integrating other top account-based cryptocurrencies, like the lumens (XLM) of the Stellar network.
OpenBazaar’s roots run back to 2014, when a group of developers at the Bitcoin Hackathon in Toronto developed a proof-of-concept decentralized marketplace they dubbed DarkMarket. That tech was later picked up and advanced by a different group of programmers, eventually giving way to the launch of OpenBazaar in the spring of 2016.
Currently, the marketplace offers listings ranging from handmade collectibles to electronics. To begin selling items on OpenBazaar, sellers must open a “store” within the market’s associated desktop app, at least for now — support for web and mobile sales are reportedly coming soon.
The Big Question: Is Ether Money?
It’s easy to ask but more difficult to precisely answer, and it’s an open question the Ethereum community has been grappling with in recent weeks. Naturally, the conversation is a multi-faceted one, bearing philosophical, sociological, and economic dimensions.
In recent weeks, Ethereum Foundation researcher and CBC Casper maestro Vlad Zamfir has been suggesting arguments against ether being money, for example. Some have agreed, while others have passionately argued from the other side, i.e. ether is money.
There are good economic, legal, and political arguments for and against calling ether "money"
The balance comes out strongly against
@ me, fight me
— Vlad 'ETH is not money' Zamfir (@VladZamfir) May 4, 2019
The resulting debates have given rise to a meme within Ethereum’s nook of the cryptoverse: “ether is money.” Its addition to an e-commerce play like OpenBazaar tips the balance in that direction, of course.
Interestingly, that meme seems to have received another round of validation from the new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit against Kik’s kin token ICO. In the suit, the SEC de facto argued ether was used as money in that offering:
“Investors’ purchases of Kin were an investment of money, in a common enterprise, with an expectation of profits for both Kik and the offerees […] Kik’s September 2017 sale of KIN to the general public was denominated in Ether, and Kik received approximately $50 million worth of this digital asset.”
In the very least, society’s conceptions of money change over time. If ether isn’t money yet, maybe it will be one day. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said in a dissenting opinion last year, “perhaps one day employees will be paid in Bitcoin or some other type of cryptocurrency.”