Origin Protocol launches mainnet beta of its marketplace DApp

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Origin, a protocol for creating peer-to-peer marketplaces using the Ethereum blockchain and IPFS today announced the launch of the beta version of its mainnet. At the end of September, the Origin team quietly launched the first version of its smart contracts to mainnet and deployed the marketplace DApp.

Origin Protocol was incorporated one year ago today on October 9th, 2017.  Today represents a milestone for Origin on its mission of enabling peer-to-peer commerce on the blockchain. As of today, real buyers and sellers can transact without excessive transaction fees. Users of the platform have a self-sovereign ID through ERC-725 and can communicate over secure and decentralized messaging.

During the mainnet period, buyers and sellers will be able to transact with real ETH on a Craigslist-style marketplace. Noting the beta environment, the Origin team said it is still in the process of adding many new features like fractional usage listings (think Airbnb or GetAround) and multi-unit listings (think ecommerce or ticketing). They are also actively debugging issues and fortifying platform security as the protocol’s smart contracts are still being audited.

Important Things Users Should Be Aware Of

  • Decentralized applications work a little differently. Data is stored on the blockchain and IPFS instead of on Origin servers. User accounts are their own Ethereum wallets. Make sure you safely store private keys because they can not be recovered if lost.
  • Be careful when dealing with counterparties you don’t know. Users will want to message them and make sure they feel comfortable with them. Origin also recommends verifying your own identity to let other users know who you are.
  • Origin is currently offering a basic arbitration/dispute management process. Origin team members will make judgments when disputes arise, note that they can only award funds that have already been escrowed in smart contracts.
  • No insurance is currently offered on any listings. As a seller, you may want to refrain from renting out high-ticket items.

During the mainnet beta stage, tokens from previous token sales will not yet be distributed. Tokens will be distributed at official application launch. The Origin team expects this to be when it will successfully exit beta and are confident that the platform is working as intended and smart contracts are secure.

How To Begin

In order to be able to transact as a buyer or seller on the Origin DApp, users need a crypto wallet attached to their browser. It is recommended to use the Metamask extension with Chrome or Firefox. Install the extension, create a wallet, and then transfer some ETH to it to begin using the DApp.

As a second step, Origin is encouraging users to enable Origin Messaging. With this, buyers and sellers communicate directly with each other (without Origin in the middle). If not employing the Origin Messaging, it will be difficult to interact with counterparties in a transaction. Origin Messaging is a great way for buyers and sellers to chat with each other (e.g. to ask questions about the item for sale, to provide a shipping address, etc.) in a secure way; messages are encrypted and only the sender and receiver can decrypt them.

As a final step, Origin recommends users to set up an Origin profile — this is optional but whether a seller or a buyer, a solid profile gives higher confidence to the other party that the transaction is reliable. To do so, simply click on the Account icon on the top right of the DApp. Provide your name, anything you want to share about yourself, and a picture. Note that this information will be made public on the blockchain so make sure you are comfortable sharing the data you enter. Also, users can verify their email address, phone number, and/or your social media accounts — this is a great way to strengthen your profile. Note that Origin will show other users you have verified your phone number or email address, but will not reveal users actual phone number or other sensitive data. When ready, publish your profile so that other users can learn more about you before buying or selling with you.

As a buyer, users can quickly browse for listings, search to query for specific items by keywords, category, and price.

Sellers can get started by clicking on the “Add a listing” button on the top of the DApp. Choose a category and enter a description and price for a listing.

Highlighted Features Included In The Mainnet Beta Release

Below are release notes detailing the most important features of the Mainnet Beta release. Origin will release further details in the near future as development continues.

  • Marketplace smart contract: The new marketplace contract implements multi-step transactions, dispute management and rulings, optional affiliate commissions, and support of ETH and/or any ERC-20 tokens as payment currencies.
  • Origin token: OGN is an ERC-20 token that is integrated with the Origin marketplace smart contracts. The token is meant to incentivize behaviors that will bootstrap the network and also protect against negative behaviors. The first use case (many more are planned in future releases) is to allow sellers to boost their listings for higher visibility in the marketplace. This gives listings a higher chance of being sold successfully.
  • Search: The DApp now supports search. Use the new search bar at the top of the DApp to query listing data by keyword, category, and price. While listings are still loaded directly from the blockchain, search capabilities are enabled by an open-source bridge server.
  • Arbitration: In case a conflict occurs between a seller and buyer, the DApp provides a workflow for dispute resolution. Currently, Origin acts as the sole arbitrator on the platform, but the team will be working on a more decentralized solution in the future.
  • Upgradability: Currently, Origin is using an abstraction layer using the concept of “adapters” and “resolvers” to support future upgrades of the different building blocks that constitute the platform. The team says it believes it’s critical to have the right foundation built into the initial contracts to rapidly iterate and improve upon marketplace functionality, identity solutions, and interactions with off-chain listing data.
  • Developer-library improvements: The Origin team hardened its core JS library (origin-js) by implementing stricter validation rules (using JSON schema) of the listing data that is written to and read from IPFS.
  • User experience improvements: Origin has streamlined many parts of the user experience.
  • Internationalization: Inline with Origin’s commitment to being a global platform from day one, the DApp is available in 20 languages.

Features Not Included In This Release

Regrettably, not all the features Origin wanted to incorporate into this release made the cut. The team chose to leave the following features out, for now, to ensure it could meet deadlines and have a soft and stable release.

  • Listing types: Fractional usage (e.g. home sharing, car rentals, services) and multi-unit (e.g. ticketing, e-commerce) listings are not supported yet.
  • Mobile app/wallet: While having prototyped a native iOS app, the team is not quite ready to release this yet. Origin will use the web DApp to experiment and learn to inform themselves of the crucial features to build into the mobile app.
  • Advanced search: Left out was the ability to search with additional filters, suggested queries, and support for some of the quirks of non-latin languages.
  • JS SDK: The API endpoints and functionality implemented by the origin-js core JS library are still a work in progress and not stable yet. Therefore, they are not yet ready for consumption by 3rd-party developers that plan to build DApps on top of the Origin platform.

Origin Future Roadmap

High-level product goals for Q4 include:

  • Make the Origin platform ready for developer partners to build on
  • Learn from early data and iterate in order to considerably improve the DApp’s user experience
  • Launch the mobile app/wallet to streamline transactions and remove the dependency on Metamask
  • Support additional listing types
  • Harden infrastructure for security and scalability benefits

The Origin decentralized app allows buyers and sellers to transact without rent-seeking middlemen using the Ethereum blockchain and IPFS.

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