The Blog

Sellers will need BBT. This is how to get them.

The BitBoost Token (BBT) is a utility token, designed to enable users to list their goods on our e-commerce app. Since they will need BBT in order to use our service, sellers will also need a way to purchase tokens.

Tokens can be bought and sold on participating exchanges. For regulatory reasons, BitBoost has taken no action to get our token listed on any exchange. However, in anticipation of our live app release coming in June, some exchanges have independently decided to list our token. Sellers can therefore find the BBT on EtherDelta and other sites.

Most recently, the BBT has been added to Crex and BarteDEX by the staff of those exchanges. Crex is a low-tier exchange, with dozens of tokens already available. As a centralized exchange, it is ruled by a staff, with a support hotline available for all of the traders. BarteDEX is a decentralized exchange. It is open source and free for everyone, but lacks the customer support features of centralized exchanges.

We, at BitBoost, would like to remind you of the risks involved with using exchanges and with the use of digital tokens in general. Blockchain is a new world of technology. There is great promise but, as with all things, it is not perfect. The various government regulatory bodies are working to protect you but they are still in the process of determining best practices. You should learn as much as you can before choosing to use any digital token and before getting involved in any blockchain project.

BitBoost has created a Risk Disclosure document to help with this. You can find the link at the bottom of every page on our website by clicking “Legal.”  

Meanwhile, we would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for your support and patience. Blockchain projects can disrupt current practices and change the world, but we are nothing without our communities. Keep learning. Keep making great suggestions to help us redefine e-commerce. We listen. Thank you!

 

Our solution for data protection over the Ethereum blockchain.

Personal data overt the Ethereum blockchain

Our solution for data protection over the Ethereum blockchain

Data protection is a serious topic at BitBoost. We are using our blockchain solutions to empower people, and for us this also means giving people back control of their personal data at any moment, not storing it without their consent, and not using it for unintended purposes. Furthermore, we have implemented our solution for data protection over the Ethereum blockchain.

We do not store any personal information from sellers or buyers. Every user will just need to provide a password to create their own personal wallet, with an alphanumeric address and alias as their only ID. With this wallet, address, and alias, users will be able to fully use our blockchain-based marketplace, and they will only provide their personal information to sellers, and just for delivery purposes. This information will never be stored or transmitted unencrypted, so no third party, including us, will be able to access it.

Nevertheless, the management of information in the blockchain brings some new issues to deal with, compared to centralized ledgers systems. First of all, all information stored in the blockchain will be available for every node in the network. This means that the responsibility for storing and managing information is distributed, and different data protection jurisdictions might apply, depending on the location of the nodes. In our case, we are applying EU laws and its General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. It is probably the most globally advanced law in data protection, so being compliant with it is enough for any blockchain company. We would like to comment on several points regarding this matter.

First, it is important to understand that the blockchain brings pseudonymity by design. Every node using the network is identified through an address, and users don’t need to share their personal information for any purpose. This is a really useful feature: in the blockchain we will store just the interactions between addresses, protecting our users’ personal information, which is always in users’ hands.

The problem here is that the GDPR considers that pseudonymised data is still considered personal data (including likely public keys in a blockchain). It also clearly states that if anybody can identify a particular user assembling and organizing anonymized data, further protection should be enabled. This is probably the case for the blockchain. For instance, if we can track in the public blockchain the purchases made by a node, its location and money spent, probably we can track down the person behind it (and the same can be easily applied to sellers through listings and locations).

To prevent that, we are implementing an encryption system over the pseudonymity feature of the blockchain. This way, all the personal information stored in the blockchain will be protected, and only shared with the parties involved. BitBoost won’t be able to check this info, nor will any other user. Just an arbiter, a third party individual selected for dispute resolution by sellers, will have the key to decipher a transaction, and just for a brief time and only for arbitration purposes.

Finally, we should talk about “the right to erasure”. As stated by the EU law, users have the right to demand the erasing of their personal information from Internet in the following cases:

  1. Where the personal data is no longer necessary in relation to the purpose for which it was originally collected/processed.
  2. When the individual withdraws consent.
  3. When the individual objects to the processing and there is no overriding legitimate interest for continuing the processing.
  4. The personal data was unlawfully processed (i.e. otherwise in breach of the GDPR).
  5. The personal data has to be erased in order to comply with a legal obligation.
  6. The personal data processed belongs to a child.

Not in all cases does the right to erasure means the right to be forgotten, and although there is some controversy around this topic as applied to the blockchain, we can quote the Guide to blockchain and data protection (issued by Hogan Lovells in 2017) for general advice: “What constitutes “erasure” is still open to debate. Some data protection authorities have found that irreversible encryption constitutes erasure. In a blockchain environment, erasure is technically impossible because the system is designed to prevent it. However, smart contracts will contain mechanisms governing access rights. Therefore the smart contract can be used to revoke all access rights, thereby making the content invisible to others, albeit not erased”.

In our case, data access is regulated by both smart contracts and cryptography. While arbiters will not get access to the encrypted data without the permission of a smart contract, buyer and seller both have access to anything they have shared, whenever they want. This way, the data generated will be only available by those who have created it, at any time. For us, this is the best way to protect the data stored in the Ethereum public blockchain.

To summarize, our approach to personal data management in the blockchain is simple: we want to bring back to the users the power to manage their personal data. Neither we nor third parties will be able to do something not allowed with personal data. This approach is radically different from that of big digital companies, where data (aka our information) has become the most valuable asset to sell and trade, even without the fully conscious consent of those generating this data, and without compensating them! We find this practice unethical, and we want to build a new, decentralized Internet, where those practices will be excluded from digital business. If we succeed, we will be starting a new era of the Internet. That’s for sure.

Explaining the economic and business advantages of the blockchain for e-commerce: it’s about money and customers!

People have been asking about the real benefits of our e-commerce solution, our blockchain-based marketplace. We have already mentioned the benefits of using blockchain technology, but now we want to show you some numbers to back up our claims.

As part of our research, we compared all the main solutions for e-commerce, including ours. In the following table you can see the results. This is an economic simulation of the costs involved in running an e-commerce shop with a monthly income of 5K USD, making 150 listings per month, and selling 100 items (each worth 50 USD).

SHOPIFY AMAZON EBAY

OUR BLOCKCHAIN-BASED MARKETPLACE

WOOCOMMERCE MAGENTO
Monthly fee 29 39,99 0 0 0 0
Credit card fee (2,6%+0,3 dollars per transaction) 160 0 0 0 150 150
Third party payments apps fee (Paypal) (0,01%) 50 0 0 0 0 0
Paypal fee (2,9%+0,30 cents) 0 0 0 0 175 175
Listing fee (0,3 dollars per item from 50 items listed) 0 0 15 0 0 0
LIsting fee (1$ per listing) 0 0 0 150 0
Referral fee (0,1%) 0 500 0 0 0 0
Final value fee (0,1%) 0 0 500 0 0 0
TOTAL 239 539,99 515 150 325* 325*

We can run more simulations with bigger figures. For instance, below you can see a business with a 10k USD income, 200 listings per month, and 200 items sold per month.

SHOPIFY AMAZON EBAY

OUR BLOCKCHAIN-BASED MARKETPLACE

WOOCOMMERCE MAGENTO
Monthly fee 29 39,99 0 0 0 0
Credit card fee (2,6%+0,3 dollars per transaction) 320 0 0 0 300 300
Third party payments apps fee (Paypal) (0,01%) 100 0 0 0 0 0
Paypal fee (2,9%+0,30 cents) 0 0 0 0 350 350
Listing fee (0,3 dollars per item from 50 items listed) 0 0 45 0 0 0
LIsting fee (1$ per listing) 0 0 0 200 0
Referral fee (0,1%) 0 1000 0 0 0 0
Final value fee (0,1%) 0 0 1000 0 0 0
TOTAL 449 1039,99 1045 200 650* 650*

And finally, another simulation for 100k USD of income, 300 listings, and 2000 items sold.

SHOPIFY AMAZON EBAY OUR BLOCKCHAIN-BASED MARKETPLACE WOOCOMMERCE MAGENTO
Monthly fee 29 39,99 0 0 0 0
Credit card fee (2,6%+0,3 dollars per transaction) 3200 0 0 0 3000 3000
Third party payments apps fee (Paypal) (0,01%) 1000 0 0 0 0 0
Paypal fee (2,9%+0,30 cents) 0 0 0 0 3500 3500
Listing fee (0,3 dollars per item from 50 items listed) 0 0 585 0 0 0
LIsting fee (1$ per listing) 0 0 0 300 0
Referral fee (0,1%) 0 10000 0 0 0 0
Final value fee (0,1%) 0 0 10000 0 0 0
TOTAL 4229 10039,99 10585 300 6500* 6500*

As you can see, every solution has its pricing and fee structure. In the case of Magento and Woocommerce, you have to choose between either Paypal or a credit card for payments, so the fees would vary depending on your choice. In some cases, the payment choice could cut your fees by up to half.

In every case, the cost of running the solution is pretty clear although there are also hidden expenses. For instance, running a shop using Woocommerce or Magento might be cheaper at first glance, but we have to keep in mind that we will need to customize the shop itself, which would include adding a template, plugins, and probably some coding (both php and CSS).

Software development for open source customization means money and resources. Shopify solves this issue at a reasonable cost, since you can create and customize your own shop really easily. The problem is that you can’t create a marketplace (just individual shops), and you would still have to pay a lot of money to bring traffic to your site. If you have ever run an e-commerce shop, you might know that the most expensive aspects of the business can be bringing in customers, paying for advertisement campaigns, and marketing professionals.

The solution to these problems are marketplaces, where you can find your customers without spending too much money. You also have the option to easily create a customized storefront to “protect” your brand. Marketplaces rely on the network effect to create big communities of buyers and sellers, hence making e-commerce better and easier for both parties. They unify digital markets and that is the reason behind their great business value.

The problem here, again, is that the cost for Amazon and eBay is simply huge, with at least a 10% fee (we haven’t included vertical marketplaces, but the the figures are pretty similar). In fact, this cost can prevent SMEs from running e-commerce operations on marketplaces, since the fees will simply cannibalize the already low profit margins, especially in developing countries.

Moreover, we should point out that, when running your e-commerce operations on a platform you can’t control, you might be subjected to censorship. This can result in the inability to communicate with your customers. At least, you thought they were your customers but, if they are controlled by the marketplace, they belong to the marketplace! Thus, you are losing what matters most in e-commerce: customer engagement. Real profits in e-commerce come from customer loyalty, and you can’t fully take advantage of that if you work in a marketplace where you can’t freely communicate with your clients.

So, you have a problem. On one hand, if you run a SME selling goods online, maybe an open source solution isn’t the best option, since you have to build it from scratch. That’s a lot of work. Using a third party service to create an e-commerce store could fix that, but you still have to pay a lot of money to bring traffic to your site. And finally, if you upload your inventory to a marketplace with a large customer base, you will have to pay high fees, earning less profits, and you won’t have REAL access to your customers.

Marketplaces are still the best way to run e-commerce shops for small and medium companies, IF you can find a solution to the problems of fees, control, and privacy. We believe that solution can be found on the blockchain.

A blockchain-based marketplace, like the one created by BitBoost, offers a better value to customers:

  1. A pricing scheme attached to listings on the blockchain. This will give sellers a really flexible and inexpensive way to protect their profits while doing e-commerce. Combined with low fees, the result is a really significant reduction in their costs.
  2. And what about customer engagement? As a seller, you will have a direct chat with your customers. They are all yours! We don’t store their data and we won’t ask you for yours either. As a seller, you will be able to freely engage with your customers without any constraints.
  3. Moreover, since the blockchain is an open ledger, there is no censorship. Nobody will be able to censor anything you want to sell (although selling illegal items wouldn’t be a good idea, since everybody would be able to see them).
  4. Data privacy! Every transaction is encrypted, and you won’t be required to share your personal information with anybody but the seller or buyer (for delivery purposes). This is a great advantage for those users who care about their privacy.

The e-commerce business is a huge sector, growing every year. Well-established players have done a great job to improve and expand online selling around the globe, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. It is our understanding that blockchain is the missing piece to create a better and easier e-commerce experience for everybody, helping individuals and companies to trade safely, with confidence…and for a nice profit! Now, we have shared data to support that. Do you want to know more? Drop us a line at [email protected]

Our purpose as a company, v. 2.0.

In the summer of 2017, when we started with our marketing campaign for the ICO, we published a small article explaining our purpose to redefine e-commerce. At the time, it seemed like a good purpose, but now that we’ve gained more experience and perspective, we realize that it could use some improvement.

A few months ago, we read Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” methodology, and it really spoke to us. Basically, Sinek explains that any company or individual, in order to define their guiding principle, or purpose, should start asking why. Why do we do what we do? Why do we want to do it? Only after you’ve answered the Why, does Sinek suggest that people answer How and What. This is a simple, but very powerful exercise called The Golden Circle.

 

So, during our last overall business meeting in January, we ran this Golden Circle exercise, to explore and better define our purpose as a company. The results were really interesting. We found that, actually, creating an e-commerce application is just the How of our purpose. But we had not yet defined our How and Why. After a brainstorming session, we came to the following conclusion:

  • Why are we doing this? Because we want to make commerce easier for everybody in the world.
  • How are we pursuing that purpose? We are empowering individuals using blockchain technology, removing middlemen and thus facilitating free and efficient e-commerce between individuals and institutions.
  • What are we doing to achieve our goals? We are creating a blockchain-based marketplace, and we are figuring out how to deliver even more tools to our users.
BitBoost's Golden Circle

BitBoost’s Golden Circle

What we realized by asking these questions, is that the core of our business is not simply being on the blockchain, but it’s about meeting people’s needs. We can craft the most advanced blockchain solution of the world, but if we aren’t solving real problems for real people it is completely useless. The blockchain is about people, a community of users freely interacting.

Therefore, although we are a technology/software company, at our core we just want to contribute to a better community. We see ourselves as the facilitators for community exchange, creating the best possible tools we can make for that purpose.

And as a community-focused company, we are trying to be as transparent as we can.  Our marketing and business development plans are wide open to everybody. We invite you to help us build our community of sellers, we actively engage all users to help us build a better product, and we are always on Telegram for anyone with questions or suggestions. We try to be as reachable as we can. Our business decisions are driven by our purpose: to make e-commerce easier for everybody in the world.

So, please, stay tuned. Much more is coming in the following weeks!

How does encryption work in our blockchain-based marketplace?

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 our blockchain-based marketplace.

How does encryption work in our blockchain-based marketplace? Encryption works together with smart contracts. Our blockchain-based marketplace 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.

Our blockchain-based marketplace 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. Our blockchain-based marketplace 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, our blockchain-based marketplace 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 our blockchain-based marketplace!

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

How does our blockchain-based marketplace work?

How Does The Block Works

As a decentralized marketplace it 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 our blockchain-based marketplace

The buyers are the people willing to buy whatever they want from any of our blockchain-based marketplace 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, our blockchain-based marketplace 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 our blockchain-based marketplace 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 our blockchain-based marketplace as easy as we can for both cryptocurrencies and fiat payments, so everyone can use the currencies of their choice.

Sellers and arbiters at our blockchain-based marketplace

Sellers are those people who want to sell whatever they want through our blockchain-based marketplace. 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 our blockchain-based marketplace, 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 our blockchain-based marketplace, 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 our blockchain-based marketplace. The Ethereum blockchain provides the whole system with the computational power needed. Nevertheless, we will develop new features, support our users and promote our blockchain-based marketplace 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 our blockchain-based marketplace, 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 our blockchain-based marketplace, 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 our blockchain-based marketplace

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 our blockchain-based marketplace 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 our blockchain-based marketplace 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 our blockchain-based marketplace 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!

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

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, our blockchain-based marketplace 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 our blockchain-based marketplace. 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 our blockchain-based marketplace 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 our blockchain-based marketplace 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 our blockchain-based marketplace 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 our blockchain-based marketplace 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 our blockchain-based marketplace 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!)