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In Short: New Release Schedule for Particl's Open Marketplace
Particl's Open Marketplace Alpha Undergoing its Final Tweaks The Particl team is making the final touches to make the…

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Setting Up the Stage

Particl is a project of many accomplishments. It was the first blockchain to natively integrate Segwit and have it enabled for all of its transactions, the first project to integrate RingCT on the Bitcoin codebase (or any other codebase other than Cryptonote), the first project to implement Confidential Transactions (CT) on Bitcoin’s codebase and push it onto mainnet, the first project to implement cold staking for its entire mainnet network, and the first project to enable a true PoS (not dPoS or dBFT) coin to safely cold stake from a hardware device (Ledger Nano S). To make all of this a reality, the Particl developers have been producing a lot of high-quality code, earning the team a spot within the top tiers of several Github audit reports/reviews.

All of these achievements are surely impressive, especially coming from a team that’s relatively quite small compared to other projects producing similar amount and quality of code (a look at the contributors section of this code quality ranking tells everything you need to know). But what this story fails to mention is that none of the accomplishments mentioned above actually are the main goal or product of the project, they are merely put in place to support the project’s main product. In fact, all of them exist for the sole purpose of strengthening the security, privacy, stability, and scalability of the network in prevision for the mainnet release of Particl’s first application: the Open Marketplace.

The Open Marketplace

The Open Marketplace is a product that’s been in the making for quite some time and has proven to be a huge undertaking due to its extremely ambitious nature.

In short, it is an entirely trustless marketplace with full privacy baked in by default and with almost no fee at all. The fact that it is trustless means that it can function autonomously and without any third-party having to get involved at any point in time. This allows fees to be brought down to the bare minimum and completely eliminates the trust factor involved when making online sales and purchases.

Its privacy aspect, which probably is the most groundbreaking aspect of the Open Marketplace, makes it so that all purchases and sales you make are verifiably private/anonymous. Whatever you do within the platform generates no identifiable data at all, meaning that it can’t be harvested by Particl or any other third-party other than the one you are transacting with. In other words, nothing you do on Particl’s Open Marketplace can leave any trace behind.

This privacy aspect truly is a revolution within the eCommerce industry, an industry that has made its fortune preying on its own users by collecting their data, without their consent, in order to get profits and influence.

The simple fact that no other project has ever attempted to build a completely trustless marketplace with rock solid privacy built directly at its core speaks about the complexity of the task. Being the first at doing something also means very few examples and proofs-of-concept are out there to help pave the way forward, but it also means that you can create a niche audience around your “new way” and capitalize on it!

Even though a lot of development progress has been made to the Open Marketplace in 2018, the fact it has only been operable on testnet for the entire year has made people more eager than ever to see some kind of mainnet release and finally get their hands on a working version of this groundbreaking technology.

Mainnet is Finally Upon Us!

The days where the Open Marketplace is only available as a testnet product are coming to an end. We’ve stated in the past we wanted this year to be different in nature from the previous one, and so let’s start it with a bang! Whereas 2018 was solely focused on development, 2019 will see much more action with the release of the Open Marketplace on mainnet. The best part? The mainnet release of the Alpha version of Particl’s Open Marketplace is now imminent!

The Timeline

As stated in an answer to a question asked during our latest AMA/FAQ session, one of the decisions the Particl team has taken in South Africa has been to focus on making the current Alpha version of the marketplace completely stable and move it onto mainnet as soon as that stability is reached. In other words, in just a short time, it will finally be possible to buy and sell real goods and services on Particl’s Open Marketplace and do it with real coins!

Alpha Development Phase Ends and Releases on Mainnet

The current Alpha version contains all the necessary tools for basic eCommerce to be possible, including weighted decentralized governance to keep it clean (which is currently available internally, but is not merged on public testnet just yet). Once Alpha is successfully moved onto mainnet, it will mark the end of the Alpha period for the Open Marketplace and the beginning of the Beta phase.

Alpha Mainnet Features

If you’ve played with recent versions of the marketplace on testnet, then you will find yourself within a familiar environment when running it on mainnet. All of the features introduced throughout the year on testnet will now be available, and very stable, within a real-life environment. There is no better way to test features, especially those relying on game-theory such as the MAD escrow and the decentralized governance mechanism, than to put them into the wild where real funds and incentives are involved.

However, it is very important to note that, as the current switch from testnet to mainnet won’t require any sort of hardfork, the first mainnet version of the Open Marketplace won’t process transactions using Particl’s RingCT protocol which will stay on testnet for the time being. What this means is that marketplace transactions will be pseudonymous, not anonymous, until RingCT is fully implemented into the escrow system at some point in time during Beta’s development phase.

The mainnet version of the Open Marketplace Alpha will contain these features:

  • Buy and sell real products and services with real coins
  • Trustless and fee-less escrow mechanism without RingCT privacy
  • Decentralized governance mechanism to flag listings
  • Community proposals

Beta Development Phase Begins Soon (Testnet)

While the Alpha mainnet version of the marketplace will allow anyone in the world to buy and sell real goods and services using real coins, it will only include the basic functions that make eCommerce possible. The Beta phase of development, which will run parallel to the mainnet Alpha version, is aimed at building the additional features required for a more accessible eCommerce experience and slowly integrating them as Release Candidates. This phase will start as soon as Alpha hits mainnet!

Whereas Alpha was focused mainly on building the base layer and functions for the marketplace, Beta will be focused on adding new features. For this reason, Beta is likely to be a more exciting phase than Alpha was simply due to the fact that every new build will most likely introduce a new feature. Here are some of the features currently being considered or already being worked on for the Beta phase:

  • Inventory management
  • Privacy (RingCT implemented onto the MAD escrow system)
  • Messaging mechanisms (various implementations being looked into, messaging will likely be integrated in more than one way)
  • Private markets (or “Bubbles)
  • Payment gateways (pay with your favorite currency)
  • Escrow recovery and refunds
  • A section for wanted items
  • Shipping carrier integration
  • …and more (click here)!

South Africa Team Meetings Update
As you probably already know, the Particl development team met in South Africa from the 16th of November to the 24th…

Note: The Beta phase of development for the Open Marketplace will begin as soon as the Alpha build is made entirely stable and ported over to the mainnet. Each new Beta feature will be introduced as a Release Candidate (RC). Release Candidates will be released on testnet, and mainnet implementation of features are not guaranteed until Beta mainnet.

Branching Off

As discussed during the team’s series of meetings in South Africa, Beta will see its development be split into two branches: the Development branch, and the Stable branch. This is a different release strategy than Alpha’s, and it will make testing Beta versions much more convenient for most people and make builds easier to share with friends.

The Development branch will be where all the newly introduced features first get added. Because adding new features almost always introduces new bugs and issues, this simple fact of adding new functions can break builds that used to be super stable and make them unusable. This is not very good for community testing but is necessary when building stuff, and so this branch is likely to be used mainly by the more advanced types of user.

For the sake of convenience, a new branch, the Stable branch, will be introduced where only stable features will be included. The goal of the Stable branch is to have a stable enough testing environment to both show off to people and to also have all of its features be tested by a larger pool of testers. The features that will be added to this branch will be those that have successfully passed through the Development branch tests. This should make community testing much more enjoyable, and builds from the Stable branch should be better for sharing with other people (they won’t expire and shouldn’t break unexpectedly).

In simpler terms, it means that for a feature to be implemented on mainnet, it will first need to be tested internally by the team, then tested within the rougher Development testnet branch. Once rid of most of its bugs and issues, the feature will get implemented onto the Stable branch for its final round of testing. Only after this last step will it be ready to be integrated onto mainnet and able to be used with real funds.

Biggest Milestone to Date

It would be an understatement to say the release of Particl’s Open Marketplace on mainnet, even if just the Alpha version, is a big milestone for the project and the community. Not only has this initial release been long-awaited by everyone, but it’s also setting the stage for Particl’s future disruption of the eCommerce industry by finally allowing users to be in full control of their data and shopping experience. Remember, no company or organization has ever tried to offer what Particl Open Marketplace stands for: a completely trustless, private-by-default, and almost fee-less marketplace where everyone can participate.

What’s more, it will finally make cryptocurrencies as easy and affordable to spend as ever, and once a Bitcoin gateway is integrated, will benefit the entire cryptocurrency economy to truly separate itself from the global fiat economy. No more will you be required to “cash out” your coins and pay useless fees just to buy stuff with crypto.

This release also separates Particl from the group forming the majority of blockchain projects: those who do not have any sort of mainnet product ready at this time. In fact, with this release, Particl enters a much more limited group of projects that have a product live on mainnet!

While this coming mainnet release obviously doesn’t live up to par with what the first full version of the marketplace (post-Beta) will offer, it is a provably functioning proof-of-concept that allows you to buy and sell real stuff for real crypto, and we strongly believe porting it onto mainnet will greatly help the project on all angles.

We cannot wait to start this great mainnet journey with every single one of you and watch the Open Marketplace evolve into a behemoth!

Want to read more about Particl and decentralized and privacy-conscious eCommerce in general? How about this article explaining the need to decentralize the tech industry, or this article breaking down how Particl could help Bitcoin succeed as a decentralized and independent economy?

Maybe you want more of an update on how things are going? Then just head over to our last Community Update or this Particl Copay Development Update and get all the information you need to stay up-to-date with everything Particl.