Thursday, August 16, 2012

LocalBitcoins Escrow service rebranded to "LocalBitcoins Transaction" or short "Transaction"

We have changed the name of the escrow feature to "LocalBitcoins Transaction" or just "Transaction" where the connection is obvious. We changed the name because it is not actually escrow service by the traditional definition, no disputes or resolution services.

Other terms: 


"Transaction verify code": this is generated for the buyer. When the seller shows this code to the buyer, buyer can be 100% that funds have been released. The buyer should check that the code shown by the seller matches the code shown by localbitcoins.com
"Transaction release code": the seller can release the escrow by sending this code to the number +16466994674 . This releases the funds to the buyer, and the seller should receive the verify code promptly, which he/she can show to the buyer.


The benefits of the service are:

- No internet connection needed - only one SMS-enabled phone required to make the transaction on the spot, or only one internet-connected laptop
- Quick process - the buyer does neet any devices, just memorize/write down the transaction verify code
- Allows the users to gain reputation via confirmed trades. If users use this service, we have a way to confirm that trade actually happened.

The LocalBitcoins Transaction service is not enforced in any way. You are free to create any kind of deal with the customer, use smartphone clients, laptops, whatever. We just recommend to use the transaction feature when the customer requests it - it should make the process much easier to the buyer. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bitcoin cash exchangers already in 60 countries, almost 200 cities!

We are really happy with the global reach localbitcoins.com has achieved in the short time we have been developing the site. It is nice to see, that we have advertisers now from even countries such as Ghana, Malaysia, Venezuela and Cambodia, where Bitcoin could be really useful.

We made a simple statistics page, where we collect up-to-date statistics from localbitcoins.com:  https://localbitcoins.com/statistics

We are very excited with the positive feedback we have received for the site, and we are working on new features full time. This week our goal is to make the site translation-ready, so we can start making the site more useful for people from non-english countries as well.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

LocalBitcoins Transactions via SMS - buy and sell bitcoins with cash, hassle-free and fast without internet connection

EDIT 16.8: Please note that we rebranded the service from "escrow" to "LocalBitcoins Transaction" or short "Transaction". This is because the service is not actually an escrow service. It is just a tool to make the exchange process easier.

Cash is a perfect method for buying and selling bitcoins. Paypal and credit cards have chargebacks, and are practically unusable for bitcoin transactions. Bank transfers are slow, and take away your privacy by enabling the bank to see all your transactions.

However there are lots of hurdles when trying to enable local bitcoin-to-cash transactions. What kind of devices you want to use, what kind of internet connection, how many confirmations should you wait, and so on. We try to remove all these hurdles with our SMS-based bitcoin escrow service. Only the seller needs sms-enabled phone, and the buyer doesn't need phone at all! So even internet connection isn't needed at the meeting point.

The process for the buyer is following:
  1. Make offer/receive offer
  2. Memorize or write down the escrow verify code
  3. Bring the cash to agreed location
  4. When seller shows you the escrow verify code, you can be sure that the funds have been transfered to you
For the seller the process is almost as easy:
  1. Receive offer/make offer
  2. Write down the escrow release code and phone number as a SMS message, don't send yet
  3. When the buyer brings you the cash, send the release code as SMS
  4. You should receive the verify code as a SMS, which you can show to the buyer
The SMS should work 99,99% of the time - we have two different backends, so that if one fails, we will use the other. Also we have enabled the SMS messages in 150 countries - you should be able to use this process practically anywhere in the world.

If there are some problems, you can always head to the nearest internet cafe, and check the situation online. However, we are pretty confident, that practically in all cases the SMS escrow process should work easily, and the transaction time could be less than a minute.

Also if the seller works for at example internet cafe, even the sms sending is not needed - you can just release the escrow online, and you will receive the code with you can prove that the escrow has been released.

Here are couple funny visualizations of the process (however note that since these, the process has been simplified):

Seller:

Buyer:


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Specify your price with min/max functions

Now it is even easier to minimize your risk when selling/buying bitcoins on localbitcoins.com, while still giving a competitive price. We added possibility for min/max -functions. For example, the following equation gives pretty competitive price when you want to sell in EUR:

max(max(mtgoxusd_high*USD_in_EUR, EUR_24h), intrsngeur_high)

Or if you want to buy in USD:

min(mtgoxusd_bid, USD_24h)

Not that these functions always require excatly two parameters.

We hope that with these advanced pricing functions people are more comfortable doing bitcoin OTC trades, with fixed prices.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Now you can connect your bitcoin-otc ratings to your localbitcoins.com profile

We just have made it possible to connect your bitcoin-otc account to your localbitcoins.com profile. Only the bitcoin address authentication support is currently enabled. However, it is trivial to add a bitcoinaddress to your bitcoin-otc profile.

If you already are authenticated on bitcoin-otc using bitcoin address, just go to your localbitcoins.com profile and follow the instructions. It should me less than 5 minute process, if you are using the standard bitcoin client.

If you are using only gpg authentication, you can easily enable bitcoin address based authentication with the following commands to the gribble bot:

;;changeaddress 
<get the signature from your bitcoin client>
;;bcverify 


After adding the bitcoin address, just go to your localbitcoins profile and follow the instructions. Essentially you sign the message provided by localbitcoins.com, and via that action you can prove that you are have the access to the specified bitcoin-otc profile.

Why to connect your bitcoin-otc profile to localbitcoins, then? You get all your bitcoin-otc feedback listed in your localbitcoins.com profile, which will add your credibility. Also you will get some nice badge to your listings in the future (we haven't yet implemented this).