Roadmap for BitBoost and The Block
With our core software already in beta, we wanted to explain to the community what we plan for the immediate future and the steps we’re taking to make The Block the world’s foremost peer-to-peer e-commerce platform.
At the time of writing, early in Q3 2017, BitBoost has already completed a large proportion of the major functionality that will allow users to buy and sell items safely and securely on The Block. When we launch our crowdsale, it won’t be for a high-level concept or on the back of a white paper alone: it will be to polish and market working software, built on Ethereum’s smart contracts and ready to be used by merchants and customers alike.
Progress so far
At the beginning of the year, we opened our beta app to testers. This initial version of the software included key functionality that showed we were serious about our ultimate vision, and that we believe proves BitBoost’s experience and ability to deliver such a complex and significant application.
Security and privacy have always been overriding priorities for us, and we implemented HTTPS for all connections, as well as anonymous image hosting, to reflect this. Our caching system was ready, and at least two remote Geth and caching nodes have been deployed. Whilst it’s possible to use an Ethereum address as a user name, aliases were also implemented, along with 2FA for further security.
The first escrow provider was made available, quickly followed in Q2 by additional tools for escrows. It became possible to find pending disputes, and for escrows to resolve disputes. And, because The Block is intended to be a fully global and open e-commerce solution, we started localising the platform. By the end of June we had added more than 20 languages, covering the majority of the world’s population. Further languages will be added down the line.
With a working platform, our priority for Q3 and ahead of our crowdsale is to press on with adding features that will make The Block more private and more user-friendly.
Top of the list for privacy is Tor integration, which we consider a robust solution to surveillance. Whilst HTTPS removes the risk of man-in-the-middle attacks, Tor will ensure that it’s practically impossible for an attacker to know where users are based.
We’ll also be dramatically improving the user experience and the range of tools available to buyers. Our blacklisting service will go live, ensuring that customers can filter out items that are deemed illegal in their jurisdiction, or that are unacceptable for other reasons. We believe in truly open markets and free trade, but this has its downsides and we understand that most customers will not want to search everything that is for sale. In addition to the default filters and those offered by third parties, it will be possible to personalise the search experience with user-defined settings and filters. Moderators will be able to update the standard blacklists.
We’ll be implementing a simple feedback system to allow customers to rate both sellers and items, expanding the number of languages offered, and enabling imported themes to customise the user experience further. We’re also working on mobile apps for both Android and iOS, which we hope to have ready by the end of September.
By the end of the year, we intend to have completed our first full implementation of a platform that has all the functionality required to compete with existing e-commerce sites such as Amazon and eBay. In particular, there are a couple of features that are critical if we are to go up against the current online shopping giants, and to carve out a niche in this vast and rapidly-growing sector.
The first of these is auctions. It’s a great start simply to enable straightforward buying and selling – the equivalent of eBay’s ‘Buy It Now’, or the default approach that most e-commerce sites take. However, we’re equally aware of the benefits of the auction system and the role it plays in the free market, enabling price discovery. So we’re going to build the same for The Block, to allow prospective buyers to bid as much as they want for items, and for sellers to set the parameters within which they’re happy to deal. Of course, regular buying and selling will always be possible for merchants and customers.
The final big piece of the puzzle is fiat integration. As powerful as Ethereum is and despite the significant benefits of offering an unrestricted peer-to-peer model, we know that for most users, entry into the complex and often overwhelming world of cryptocurrency is simply too much of a barrier. We won’t be doing our job if we fall down on something as fundamental as currency. We’re targeting the mainstream, not a niche crypto community. So we’ll be partnering with services that allow people to convert funds to ETH on-the-fly, essentially making The Block accessible to anyone who has an internet connection and a credit card.
(If you think the people you know would find this useful, please share it with them – We’d really appreciate it!)