For years, preppers have been amassing supplies and contemplating what they would do to survive during mass-unrest and global-upheaval. At times appearing foolish, some old-timers have been preparing for decades. But now with a pandemic, contracting business conditions, the Fed promising to inflate away economic troubles, nations on lockdown and US military forces positioning themselves for increased control, who is laughing now…? Well, maybe there’s still some gallows humor BUT… our society is clearly in unchartered waters and dare I say, embroiled in a SHTF scenario. Maybe it’s time we all increased our inner survivalist.

Always one to be prepared for a few-week-long emergency, I’d pre-purchased small amounts of water, food, mags & ammo, a dual fuel stove, generator and even a bailer-bucket. I was sure I had thought of everything but despite my best efforts to keep on top of my supply inventory, I find myself still needing the last few items on a list that seems to grow longer each day. Thank goodness carrier services have been making steady deliveries or most of us would already be at the doorstep of a new world of hurt. But what happens if Amazon and Walmart deliveries get backlogged? What do we do if they stop selling certain items?

Actually, there are some products which third-party platforms such as Amazon and eBay have already placed restrictions on during the last month, in the name of eliminating price gouging. Some of these items have been restocked, but have gone through periods of “backorder”, with no chance of obtaining them with any immediacy. Personally, I had overlooked some essentials like face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes that have experienced supply interruptions recently on third-party websites. Even isopropyl alcohol and books written to help people survive during the Coronavirus outbreak were removed from the marketplace. These are items that could save lives! While I won’t speak for anyone else, frankly, I would rather pay a higher premium in the free market (a day or two too late), rather than have these items at times, altogether unavailable.

Moving forward, I believe the trade of goods between individuals will remain essential. However, with the Coronavirus narrative, some in-person purchases and exchanges may be impossible at times. Additionally, some items are heavily regulated, sold out or otherwise not available. Traditional eCommerce platforms will not be the end all towards getting ourselves supplied through these challenging times.

So, for those hard-to-get items that are no longer accessible via traditional eCommerce or that are sold out in local stores, do you really want to risk bartering in person where you could be participating in spreading the virus… or getting robbed? What if there was an internet-based option where anyone could buy or sell anything, without a third party censoring the transaction in any way? Well, this type of platform already exists and is being used for commerce right now.

Have a look at the non-for-profit, open-source, Particl Marketplace:

This marketplace is not a website but is instead a standalone application downloadable to your desktop at Particl.io. There is no URL, it is simply person-to-person and every transaction is private, fully obfuscated from any third-party analysis. This is a cryptocurrency-based platform, where the user controls their own funds. The native cryptocurrency used is called ‘Part’.

The Benefits at a Glance:

  • Anyone can buy or sell anything
  • No permission is required
  • There is no login, no sign-up and no personal info that’s stored, shared or sold
  • No middleman, no commissions, no profiteering entity
  • Easy to use, nearly automated process
  • Multi-currency support; including BTC
  • No product or category of products can be banned or prohibited
  • Community-moderated to remove potentially harmful listings

The items available will change as sellers’ inventory adjusts. As of the time of writing, here are a couple of example items that may be of interest to readers:

N95 Masks in Hand, USA (10 pack):

Description: “Order arrived 15 minutes ago. I want to get these to people who need them! (Everyone) I paid a lot for these masks and I am only charging enough markup to allow me to make a bigger order next. Ships Priority Mail USPS. If post office closures happen I will switch to any provider still open with Priority shipping. I am unsure if I can get another shipment in but I will try if these sell quickly. I am actively seeking to provide more supplies like this. If you would like CASE Pricing or high qty please leave contact info in your private bid and I will contact you. DOMESTIC USA SHIPPING ONLY. I am unsure if you would receive it in time otherwise.”

Heirloom Blackbeans:

Description: “Vigorous! August 2019 Harvest. Delicious and beautiful blackbeans. Extremely fast growing and high production. Blackbeans are a staple food crop around the world. These beans are a Heirloom passed between farmers in my region. Grown free of any chemical inputs or animal fertilizers. Will ship 1oz / 25g of seed. Enough for a 50'/18M bed. Expect 20–30LB/ 10–15KG of beans!”

How to Setup the Marketplace:

This process may require some patience for those new to cryptocurrencies, but it is straight forward if you can follow the steps listed below.

  1. Go to Particl.io and download the open-source Particl Desktop.
  2. Install and open the software. *(Yes, it’s safe.)
  3. Create a default wallet & write down the recovery phrase.
  4. Allow time to sync the blockchain.
  5. Click “plus sign” at top left of wallet to create second wallet.
  6. Name 2nd wallet “market” (without quotes) & complete prompted setup.
  7. Allow market wallet to sync listings. Now the software is ready to use.

*Your desktop will likely supply a default notification that this software is from an unknown developer. This is normal. For advanced users, the code is open-source, so you can always inspect it yourself.

How to Use the Marketplace:

  1. Click on desired item and add to cart.
  2. Click on “view cart”.
  3. Go to “continue to shipping”.
  4. Enter shipping info.
  5. Click on “continue to confirmation”.
  6. Click on “place order”.

Understanding ‘Part’ & Funding Your Wallet

Particl Marketplace is the first private, person-to-person marketplace. Nothing else like it exists. To achieve this level of privacy and to create a marketplace that eliminates all third-party servers and intermediaries, blockchain technology is used. For two main reasons, all transactions must be settled in the Particl Marketplace’s native currency: Part.

  • Part utilizes RingCT privacy technology during all market transactions to hide transacted amounts and parties.
  • Part is also used for the (trustless & automated) escrow feature.

To fund your wallet, you can purchase Part on an exchange, and then send the currency to your wallet. Alternatively, you can use the in-wallet exchange mechanism by sending Bitcoin to an address and then receiving Part directly in your wallet.

Further Understanding Escrow

Particl developed a one-of-a-kind escrow system referred to as MAD escrow. It is free to use, private-by-default and fully autonomous between the seller and buyer. Essentially, the automated escrow system uses a smart contract to hold funds equal to 100% of the purchase price, to incentivize the buyer and seller to complete the transaction. This eliminates any incentive for fraud before the transaction even begins.

During the marketplace transaction, the buyer’s funds are automatically put into escrow. Additionally, both the buyer and the seller put up 100% of the purchase price into an automated security deposit that exists inside of a smart contract. Nobody can access these funds or run off with them. The funds remain on hold until the buyer and seller agree that the transaction was completed. Once the transaction is complete, the buyer clicks “received item”, which then releases their own escrow and also the seller’s escrow, at no fee whatsoever.

Were an issue to arise during the transaction, the seller’s email is generally provided in the item description. Additionally, there are a lot of volunteers and crypto enthusiasts on Particl’s social media — Discord, Riot, Facebook and Telegram. These are passionate people who want to see private and decentralized commerce become more widespread, so they will help you in any area that you require further understanding in.

So, Is this Modern-Day Bartering?

Bartering is defined as a direct exchange of goods, not delayed in time. So, while using this marketplace may not fit the traditional definition of ‘barter’, I’d submit that this may qualify as modern-day bartering, due to the ability of people to exchange items without using the traditional banking system, a credit card or national currencies.

Additional benefits of using this digital exchange platform are a decentralized escrow that ensures both parties’ honesty and cash-like privacy on every transaction conducted on the marketplace. This platform can be used for freedom-oriented exchange, during times of monetary crisis & used online even if credit cards are restricted or disabled.

Since traditional fiat currencies aren’t used, and because of the nature of the marketplace, you’re able to exchange one item for another, without ever touching fiat currency. It does come with a digital twist, but most things do these days. And that digital element may provide a better product selection than what is available in your locale, keep you and your personal information safer and allow you to remain healthier than bartering in person.

Final Thoughts

We don’t know what future narratives the world holds for us, but we’ve begun to see in real time how quickly supply chains can become overwhelmed. Adding to that, the early 2020 pandemic may just be a warm up for what is to return this fall, possibly requiring further lockdown measures until a vaccination is created. Goods and services could become even more difficult to acquire moving forward, as traditional supply chains flex under further pressure, bending to a decrease in (ill & stay-at-home) workforce participants and company closures due to poor economic conditions.

During these difficult times, centralized authorities can control the ebb and flow of commerce, simply by restricting items for one reason or another. In a grid-up soft-collapse, every person reading this can have access to any items that other people wish to sell, regardless of what’s available at the supermarkets or hardware stores. And of course, you can sell your own items too. Yes, there’s a bit of a comprehension curve for new users, but for those with determination, this is a platform that will promote further self-empowerment, and offer solutions where traditional eCommerce platforms lag.

For a better understanding of Particl, you’re invited to connect with the community on social media or read the Particl News links below.

-2019 Progress Summary

-2020 Roadmap

Best to you all, your families and to humanity during these trying times.