Today I would like to take the time to introduce a wonderful (but still with rough edges) piece of software, called Bitsquare.
In a later post, we will cover how to actually operate the software.
For now, I would just like to very briefly introduce what it does, and why I believe it is interesting for you (and the larger steemit community) to know about it.
With Bitsquare, it becomes possible to trade in and out of crypto-currency without resorting to a centralized service.
While it is also possible to use the software to trade between crypto-currencies, we will not discuss that usage pattern here - not because it cannot be useful, but merely because it is not what I would like to explain/get into at this point.
The creators of Bitsquare are passionate about privacy and resisting censorship.
They realized that central points of failure, like Bitcoin exchanges, are a threat to the crypto-currency ecosystem, and a central point of monitoring, where the users' privacy degrades just by virtue of using the service.
Rather than having to expose your financial privacy and data, the creators of Bitsquare would like you to retain as much privacy as possible, while at the same time being able to trade in crypto-currency.
The design of the software goes to great lengths to not have a single point of failure while also protecting your privacy:
- The network is peer-to-peer, there are no servers that can be seized.
- User funds (fiat currency or crypto-currency) are never held by Bitsquare.
- No account registration is necessary to use the software.
- Bitsquare is completely open source.
- The peer-to-peer network operates over Tor, using tor hidden services.
- All private data is sent end-to-end encrypted.
- Private data is only accessible to the traders involved.
Key features of the Peer-to-Peer network
The network is designed to be highly accessible; As long as you can connect to the Tor network (either directly, or using bridges), you are set!
This will not be a problem in most part of the world today. Even for Chinese users, with the latest release, it becomes possible to access the network, since support for tor bridges was added.
Besides being designed to protect your privacy, the p2p network was also designed to be scalable and redundant.
For the more technically inclined readers, more information about the design of the p2p network can be found at the end of this article.
The software is usable, but still beta quality. Expect some bugs.
Nevertheless, I make use of Bitsquare, a couple of times every month, and have never run into any major issue!
You can consult the official roadmap here.
All very interesting! How does this benefit Steemit?
There is an ever-widening range of crypto-currencies that can already be traded from Bitsquare. Including STEEM, in fact!
But not SteemUSD - which, I believe, is what most steemians will be looking for.
It is my belief that by adding SteemUSD support to Bitsquare, the Steemit community will greatly benefit by having a viable alternative to centralized bitcoin exchanges.
It will become possible to get in and out of SteemUSD, directly from a bank account, in ONE single step!
And, concerning financial privacy, it is a much better choice than any centralized alternative.
What is wrong with Bitcoin Exchanges?
Nothing, necessarily, provided you know what you are getting yourself into!
I touched on the disadvantages of using a centralized exchange in a previous article.
To reiterate once more, here they are, in a nutshell:
You provide the company that you choose to become a customer of with everything they (or an attacker who infiltrates their systems) need to steal your identity.
Your bank account may become the target of increased scrutiny, for sending funds in/out of a bitcoin exchange. (sad, but true)
This centralized exchange will most likely monitor inbound and outbound transactions to/from your account, and unilaterally terminate the service if there is something they do not approve of.
Having a balance with a centralized exchange sets you up for counterparty risk.
The risk is smaller today than a few years ago, but still very much present.
I always recommend to people to not leave funds at a bitcoin exchange for any longer than necessary!
Your support is necessary!
Here is a concise explanation of what must happen to add SteemUSD to Bitsquare.
Below is an abridged version:
The requesting person needs to be associated with the official coin (use an email address indicating that you are from the team)
Please help spread the word!
They need to add Bitsquare as official exchange to their webpage.
OK: Should not be an issue.
There need to be an active block explorer available.
They need to send an example address of the altcoin.
OK: This is just steemit account names.
The ticker symbol does not conflict with any Fiat symbol (Check here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_4217).
OK: We can use SBD.
The requirements to add the coin does not cause extra effort for Bitsquare like adding additional input fields (e.g. if the addresss alone is not sufficient for the trade).
OK: It would not be necessary to add anything other than the address/account name.
They need to provide the rules for validating a correct altcoin address. Input verification for the coin address will be added soon and we would need to get the specifics of a altcoin delivered from those who are interested that it get added (if the one who want to add a coin is not a developer he needs to request those information form the altcoin developers - Bitsquare will not do that task). A pull request with actual code contribution is preferred over pure text based information.
OK: Bitshares has already been integrated, and steemit is no different (the underlying technology is the same!)
There need to be some trading activity. If for a period of 2 months no trade activity is visible that coin might get removed again.
OK: With all the recent posts about getting stoned, pretty sure many steemians will be buying pizzas after converting SteemUSD to USD, therefore ensuring a constant demand!
If a coin represents political values which are diametral to Bitsquare's values we reject it (e.g. fascistic, racist,...)
OK: We are all little crypto angels!
Call to action
(gratuitous John Snow image ..)
Two things are necessary, then.
One, someone officially associated with steemit must make the official request.
And two, you can help by expressing your support over at the Bitsquare forum - I started a thread there about adding SteemUSD.
The more support they realize this has, the quicker it will get done.
Therefore, if you have five to ten minutes to spare, and find this idea interesting, do take the time to leave a simple message in that thread!