"Over the last six months, things have changed a lot, I don't think it makes any sense for us to be bitcoin only."
That's according to Brian Hoffman, CEO of OB1, the development company behind the decentralized e-commerce protocol OpenBazaar, who announced today the project will seek to incorporate a token into its existing product offering sometime in 2018.
Announced at Token Summit II in San Francisco, the news was revealed onstage by Hoffman, who indicated that it represents a response to ongoing congestion on the bitcoin network that he said has made it less useful for payments.
Still in its early stages, the white paper for the OpenBazaar Token (OBT) will be released in Q12018, with the goal of soliciting feedback from the community before any sale, Hoffman said.
However, Hoffman continued, that feedback process has already begun.
For example, he reported the idea has been floated around to industry insiders to get a sense of the reaction. One of the more notable and beloved projects built on the bitcoin protocol, Hoffman suggested he expects the response to the move will be critical.
"I’ve already floated it to people who will give me shit, so I have a sense of what we’re going to get," Hoffman said.
As such, his comments echo other bitcoin entrepreneurs who have embraced a business model that includes the use of alternative protocols with publicly traded tokens. Earlier this year, startups Storj and Tierion, for example, made similar moves to varying degrees of backlash.
Still, Hoffman cautioned that this move can't quite be equated with those decisions, as OpenBazaar will still use bitcoin as its main protocol. Rather, OBT will be used to reward the users of a forthcoming "channels" feature, in which fixed addresses for commerce would be auctioned off in a real-time bidding process.
As revealed in May, the channels feature was planned for the project's Milestone 2 update, but was pushed back in development.
Hoffman explained that channels would be a way for solving OB's discoverability problem.
The new feature is "basically a way for anybody on the network to make a curated list of content." Hofman said, adding:
"You will be able to monetize that value to the network through the token"
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in OB1 and Tierion.
Brian Hoffman at Token Summit II image via Brady Dale of CoinDesk