Keeping it mainstream, says Blasko.
You can bid to buy pretty much anything on eBay, at least anything legal, but you need a straight up credit card or bank account to do it. And you can find sites on the dark web that auction off pretty much anything illegal, where you can pay with bitcoin or other alternative cryptocurrencies. At least until the FBI shows up. The difficulty comes when legal buyers and sellers try to negotiate online and settle up with bitcoin.
That’s where Crytpomarket.co comes in. The website, which is scheduled to go live in two to three months, has a simple proposition: duplicate eBay’s core auction functionality and combine it with an alternative currency exchange. Sellers post items, buyers submit bitcoin-denominated bids. When the deal is made, Cryptomarket holds the virtual money in escrow until the goods arrive. And those goods have to be legal.
“No drugs, we’re not going to go to jail for this”, said Jim Blasko, the company’s chief cryptographer at the Startup Debut showcase event at CES last night. The company will cooperate with law enforcement requests for information, at least to the extent that any online company must under U.S. laws. It will offer about the same degree of anonymity, or lack thereof, as eBay.
The one glaring weak spot in the business model is that eBay could decide to start accepting bitcoin payments at any time. To guard against that, Blasko says they’re expanding beyond bitcoin and will include lesser known and more lightly traded alternative cryptocurrencies such as litecoin or UnbreakableCoin. Cryptocurrency’s secret sauce is, Blasko thinks, the relationship it will build with the core alt coin community, which will at least ensure a sustainable niche for the long run.
Cryptomarket is the first hatchling from bCommerce Labs, a bitcoin focused incubator, which was featured at last year’s version of Startup Debut. Blasko said that they’ve raised about $50,000 – enough for the basic auction site development work and bitcoin integration – and are aiming for $500,000 in the next round.