Having been in development for more than two years, what promises to be the first proper decentralized Bitcoin exchange is set to officially launch next Wednesday.
Bitsquare, an open source project led by the Austrian-born Manfred Karrer, allows anyone to trade Bitcoin for fiat currency as well as altcoins, without requiring a company, central intermediary or permission from anyone.
“Bitcoin’s reliance on centralized exchanges is diametrically opposed to its principles. I hope Bitsquare will solve that problem.”
Karrer began working on Bitsquare back when Bitcoin trading was mostly centralized in one big player: Mt.Gox. But even today, long after Mt.Gox collapsed and the trading ecosystem is significantly more diverse, Karrer believes the heavy reliance on centralized exchanges is problematic.
“Exchanges provide a valuable service, as they are a bridge between Bitcoin and fiat currency, which is still very much needed,” Karrer explained. “But it’s a double-edged sword: Virtually everyone who wants to use Bitcoin must go through these centralized and often strictly regulated companies, which makes them the effective gatekeepers of the system.”
Karrer believes this is a fundamental problem for Bitcoin. Of course, customers who store funds on these exchanges risk losing their bitcoins overnight, as Mt.Gox proved. But even if an exchange