While the bitcoin community has grown over the past year to include hundreds of new global merchants, there remains a strong market for person-to-person transactions as evidenced by existing marketplaces like LocalBitcoins and Brawker.
Still, interactions on such platforms remain difficult according to Gliph. The self-described secure messaging and bitcoin payments startup has released a marketplace feature in its app with the aim of enhancing person-to-person commerce with bitcoin on smartphones.
Gliph CEO Rob Banagale explained that by launching Gliph Marketplace, his company is trying to insert bitcoin into the person-to-person buying and selling process, aiming to help people save money by using bitcoin instead of other payment methods.
He told CoinDesk that the goal of Gliph Marketplace is to place bitcoin in the middle of day-to-day transactions, saying:
“I feel like the challenge with bitcoin is that it is so new and it is so hard to get into your daily life. It’s very hard to make it practical for a lot of people.”
Enter Gliph Marketplace
Gliph has long been known as a messaging platform with a bitcoin layer on top. By allowing users to connect their Gliph account with a Coinbase or Blockchain wallet, the app enables users to attach bitcoin to messages on its platform.
Now, with Marketplace, Gliph is adding peer-to-peer commerce functionality where users can buy and sell items. Additionally, buyers can message sellers and conduct bitcoin transactions directly in the app.
Banagale argues that communication through sites like Craigslist often happens through third-party email services and requires an additional third-party platform like PayPal to send money in exchange for goods or services.
Gliph Marketplace, by contrast, reduces each step to one application available for iOS, Android and desktop via the web.
“With Gliph Marketplace, we’ve tried to solve a lot of the problems around traditional peer-to-peer transactions that you find on Craigslist. And try to do better – way better,” Banagale said.
Getting the transactions flowing
Banagale said Gliph has focused on “the hardest, crappiest parts of doing a Craigslist deal” to build a better experience with Marketplace.
As Craigslist users might know, the site leaves a lot to be desired in terms of usability. The site has only a few features and does not always seem an easy place to actually conduct online buying.
With Gliph Marketplace, the two payment options are bitcoin and cash. There’s also a value-add opportunity for bitcoin users that want to save money. Sellers have the option to offer a discount of up to 40% off the listed price for buyers that want to pay in bitcoin.
Further, users have the option to make in-person cash transactions that would be confirmed on the app.
Banagale hopes this feature of Marketplace will help users understand the cost effectiveness bitcoin provides as an electronic payment mechanism.
“In order to solve [adoption] problems, you can’t just demonstrate how bitcoin works,” he said.
Banagale conceded Gliph Marketplace does not have the type of mass exposure Craigslist has built. But even so, he believes the idea of supporting bitcoin will attract both buyers and sellers to the app.
“We hope people use Gliph Marketplace because they want to see a product that supports bitcoin, to make bitcoin a real thing,” he said.
Gliph hopes to see return use of its app not just for commerce but also communication – the original purpose of the app itself is secure messaging using AES-256, and SSL. As such, people remain contacts on Gliph after a marketplace transaction.
“We allow people to become contacts with one another. They are now contacts, they are going to be able to continue to have a conversation,” said Banagale.
Though it may have a tall task in trying to counter Craigslist in the long run, Gliph has support as a veteran of bitcoin startup accelerator Boost VC in 2013. The company also has backing by investors such as Pantera Capital and Tim Draper.
Users can download the latest version of Gliph with Marketplace functionality from the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. A web-based desktop version can be also used from the company’s official website.