The Blog

Our purpose as a company

Blockchain technology is here and it is transforming the world. Visionary developers within the blockchain community are laying the foundation for a decentralised internet to improve reliability, security and freedom. At BitBoost, we are convinced that this will enable a whole new level of applications and services, making the world a better place for everyone. We’re working hard to make the dream come true!

Right now we are developing a truly free digital trade platform, in which anyone can conduct business peacefully, regardless of their location, and without interference or censorship. It’s an app called The Block, our first contribution, and a big step towards a decentralised Internet. The Block is a marketplace that gathers the best features of a regular digital marketplace (such as Ebay) and combines them with the advantages of blockchain technology: it’s secure, always online, free from middlemen, and community driven. Simply put, we are redefining e-commerce. Here’s our CEO, Paul Mahone, to tell you more:

We’re trying to make a difference out there. Please share this with others. We’d greatly appreciate it!

HOW DOES ENCRYPTION WORK IN THE BLOCK?

At BitBoost we care about privacy. We believe that our users have the right to control and preserve their own personal data, so we do not store any of it. We can never sell or use your personal data for our own purposes. Moreover, we have implemented an encryption system to protect all personal data in The Block.

How does encryption work in The Block? Encryption works together with smart contracts. The Block utilizes Ethereum smart contracts to list items for sale, to organize the buy and sell process, to hold escrowed funds, and to allow communication between buyers and sellers. Smart contracts enable a transparent and safe trading process. Messages, mandatory to the purchasing process, are stored on the blockchain. Non-mandatory and private communications can be moved to an off-blockchain platform to reduce costs and improve speed. As all data on the Ethereum blockchain are publicly visible, private communication requires encryption.

The Block uses the elliptic curve Curve25519 for private-public keypair generation. On a high- level summary, each Curve25519 user has a 32- byte secret key and a 32-byte public key. Each set of two Curve25519 users has a 32-byte shared secret used to authenticate and encrypt messages between the two users.              

Advanced encryption standard (AES) is used for data encryption, and one-time private keys are generated for the buy session. One-time keys allow the buyer and seller to share their communication with a third party, e.g. the arbiter, without revealing their private keys. The Block shares private keys for both encrypted communication and Ethereum wallet generation. The private key is stored in the user data folder in JSON format, encrypted with the user’s password.

BitBoost does not use encryption to promote trade in illegal items or to foster a scam ecosystem, but does reflect lessons learned from the mass violations of privacy that have occurred in recent years. A decentralized, blockchain-based system is less prone to theft of personal information. But it needs strong cryptography to protect that data since it is exposed on the public blockchain.

Moreover, privacy through encryption does not mean anonymity. Users can exchange their personal information as needed through the app. This will be needed for delivery and invoicing purposes, as in any e-commerce service. But, unlike other e-commerce services, The Block does not store this data. It will be safely encrypted into the Ethereum blockchain. We will not control trading processes between buyers and sellers. We will just facilitate it, in a decentralized and secure way, through the blockchain. Encryption is an important means to achieve this goal. This is how encryption work in The Block!

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How does The Block work?

As a decentralized marketplace, The Block has no central server, no middlemen, and works fully encrypted. Nevertheless, this doesn´t mean that at BitBoost we didn´t carefully design the whole solution. Buyer and sellers need a supportive environment, where they can trade with confidence, and also a scalable one, so the most people can be included for the whole benefit. In other words, we have designed a simple yet effective ecosystem over the Ethereum Blockchain, where buyers and sellers can interact in a reliable and trustworthy manner, without restrictions. Basically, we have designed and ecosystem with four main figures: Buyers, sellers, arbiters, and third party providers. Let´s examine all them in detail.

Buyers at The Block

The buyers are the people willing to buy whatever they want from any of The Block sellers. Buyers can easily create an account, with full privacy, and they can pay with Ether, the “gas” powering the Ethereum blockchain. For this purpose, The Block includes an internal wallet for the ether. This wallet can be funded either from an external wallet, such as MyEtherWallet, or via Shapeshift, already included within The Block interface. We are already working on a solution for converting national currencies such as US dollars and euros directly into ether, as well as support for multiple wallets. Our main goal here is to make The Block as easy as we can for both cryptocurrencies and fiat payments, so everyone can use the currencies of their choice.

Sellers and arbiters at The Block

Sellers are those people who want to sell whatever they want through The Block. In this case, making an account is as simple as for buyers. In the future, we are planning to allow users to select their own alias within The Block, a string of characters and even an Ethereum address (customization for sellers pages is also on the roadmap). Every seller pays one dollar in BTT (Bitboost token) for every listing. This will be the only fee required to use The Block, and goes to support BitBoost financial expenses. This fee is far less than other marketplaces, and the reason is simple: we don´t require central servers and big IT infrastructures to run The Block. The Ethereum blockchain provides the whole system with the computational power needed. Nevertheless, we will develop new features, support our users and promote The Block to make it as big as possible. These minimal fees will be our financial fuel to do that.

Moreover,  we already have a reputation system, both for sellers and buyers. This is most needed, since marketplaces are based on trust, and reputational systems are great for this. However, sometimes there will be problems, so we have developed a new solution for disputes resolution, one great concern for buyers on marketplaces.

For this purpose, regular centralized marketplaces offer escrow systems, but it is not possible for The Block, since we are fully decentralized, to deliver the same service. Therefore, we have developed a new approach to escrow, fully decentralized and community-based, with the arbiters at its center. These are users who offer themselves to resolve disputes within The Block, and get paid for it. The system is easy: a seller may choose the option of arbitration in an item listing, even selecting the arbiter himself. In this case, the payment for the item is held in an escrow contract and will be only released to the seller if both parties indicate they are satisfied, or if a given period of time has passed without any complaint from the buyer. If there is some kind of dispute, the designated arbiter will be in charge of the escrowed funds, and determine to whom they should go.  When required, the session key can be shared with the arbiter so that he or she can access the encrypted communications between buyers and sellers. He may require a fee for this service, paid by the seller. Of course, arbiters do have a reputational system, so the community can filter the best ones and discard those with a record of bad behavior, and the fact that sellers are paying for escrowing is a real incentive for good practices.

Third party services at The Block

The last figure in this ecosystem is third party services. These are the people involved in the purchasing process, delivering services such as fulfillment and marketing. Arbiters should be also included within this group, but they are so important for the whole ecosystem that probably shouldn´t be considered as third-parties. Anyway, in this group, we can include several services, already crafted within The Block like ShapeShift, or partners such as PassLfix. Our plan is to choose all those third party providers that will add value to both buyers and sellers (so maybe you would like to drop us a line, just in case you want to be one of them). Third party providers will be paid both in ether and fiat, with a 15% fee to The Block team, in order to craft and support their integration into the marketplace.

This is basically the ecosystem we have created. Obviously, it is not a closed one. Once we are online, users will make The Block whatever they want, and we will closely work with them to fulfill their needs. We are at the beginning of a new era of blockchain-based e-commerce platforms, and nobody knows how it will be. We can make some predictions but anyway, the result will come from the demands of the community, not from our personal interest at BitBoost. A decentralized system should be like that and at BitBoost, we are facilitators, neither owners nor rulers. We won´t be the next feudal platform lord of the Internet!

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The history of BitBoost team.

The BitBoost team has been working together for years on their blockchain marketplace. We are not talking about a rush-for-the-ICO half-baked idea, but a practical application born of the innovative thinking of some real pioneers, who started coding on the blockchain as far back as spring 2014. They saw a need, and an opportunity. Three years later, The Block is a reality and moving towards beta testing.

The initial BitBoost team first met within the community of the blockchain platform NXT, and they built their first marketplace – NXT FreeMarket, a downloadable, functional shopping app on the NXT blockchain. This project was started by Paul Mahone, our CEO, and Andrew Lekar, who was involved in NXT blockchain from the beginning. In the following video, you can watch Paul introducing this app in Amsterdam in 2016.

However, the limitations of the NXT blockchain for a marketplace quickly became apparent and the user base was limited from the outset. Seeing these issues as roadblocks to future success, the team decided to move to the Ethereum blockchain in the summer of 2016. At this time they were joined by Samuele Maran, who was in charge of initial marketing and business operations. These three are the founders of the BitBoost project.

Shortly after, several more people joined to help to craft The Block. Maksim Sergeev started working on the user interface early this year, as the founders recognized the non-technical challenges of a decentralized marketplace to user adoption, such as the requirement to localize The Block in many different languages and to tailor and adapt it for the needs of widely varying legal jurisdictions. The team also incorporated developers to craft mobile apps, such as Riccardo Scanavacca for iOS, and Gianluigi Davassi. BitBoost believes that mobile e-commerce has a strong future, so the plan is to make The Block mobile friendly from the very beginning, allowing people from both mature and developing markets to use the app on their smart phones.

As a result, we have been developing The Block app, in its current Ethereum form, for more than one year. Specifically, we have expended more than 7 months and 222 days crafting the code. You are welcome to join us for beta testing!

As the application was going through development, the team decided to start building a business around it. BitBoost started researching markets and business models (read more about this in our white paper). The team expanded to include people from digital business and marketing, to form the backbone for a fundamentally sound company. Alessandro Tozzi, from Boston Entrepreneurship Center, and Alvaro Rodriguez, in charge of marketing and communications, were added. Yessin Schiegg, a seasoned financial and blockchain expert, joined as an advisor at the same time. Finally, we became officially registered as a company in Zug, also known as Crypto Valley, in May 2017.

Now, BitBoost is facing a last sprint towards launching at the end of 2017. A token sale to fund The Block will be announced this summer, but unlike the vast majority of these events, BitBoost is not asking for money based solely on an idea. Tokens will be sold to use on an existing platform, as soon as we go live. You will have less time to wait before you can actually use them.

The BitBoost team is confident that 2018 will be a great year. With a running app, and many ideas for more features to implement, you will see The Block expand within the e-commerce and digital platform markets, redefining services through the blockchain and decentralization. Updates will come soon. Stay tuned!

(If you think the people you know would find this useful, please share it with them – We’d really appreciate it!)