Bisq is a decentralized bitcoin exchange best understood in terms of its major component parts:
- Bisq is a cross-platform desktop application that allows anyone to buy and sell bitcoin in exchange for national currencies and other cryptocurrencies.
- Bisq is a trading protocol that enables individuals to exchange directly with one another over the internet, eliminating the need for trusted third party exchange services.
- Bisq is the peer-to-peer network formed by Bisq applications discovering, connecting to, and working with one another to implement the Bisq trading protocol. The Bisq network is fully peer-to-peer in that it requires no centrally-controlled servers and has no single points of failure.
Bisq is not a company. Bisq is free software released under version 3 of the GNU Affero General Public License. Bisq is built by individuals around the world who choose to work together, and Bisq is used by individuals around the world who choose to trade with Bisq over many other exchange alternatives.
Why Bisq exists
Bisq’s mission is to provide a secure, private and censorship-resistant way of exchanging bitcoin for national currencies and other cryptocurrencies over the internet.
When we say secure, we are referring to the safety of users’ funds. Today, most bitcoin exchanges are centralized, requiring users to store their bitcoins—for at least some amount of time—on exchange servers. When thousands of users do this, it creates extreme incentives for those servers to be hacked and for those users’ bitcoins to be stolen. And time and time again these hacks and thefts are exactly what happen.
When we say private, we are referring to users’ ability to control access to their own information. Today, most centralized exchanges require users to divulge personally identifying information in order to set up an account, and then in turn link users’ trading activity to their respective identities. This practice creates extreme risks for users that their personal details and financial information will be stolen, leaked or otherwise used against their own best interests.
When we say censorship-resistant, we are referring to users’ ability to voluntarily trade with one another without interference from a third party. Today, centralized bitcoin exchanges are highly susceptible to such interference. By their nature, they must operate within one legal jurisdiction or another, putting them at risk of being fined or shut down if they do not comply with the laws and other rules of that jurisdiction, which may include restrictions on who can trade and what can be traded, and almost always include requirements to collect personal information as described above.
What’s needed is an exchange where users keep control of funds, that is private by default, and that defends freedom of transaction. We built Bisq to meet these needs.
Where Bitcoin’s motto is “be your own bank,” Bisq’s is “be your own exchange.“
Exchanges play a critical role in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Without them, it would be nearly impossible to buy or sell bitcoin for euros, dollars, yen or yuan. The bitcoin market would have no liquidity, and bitcoin would be worthless.
Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin to solve the problems of centralized payment systems, so it seems inconsistent for centralized Bitcoin exchanges to be the primary way to acquire bitcoin. It often seems the dominance and vulnerability of centralized exchanges is the Achilles heel in the current Bitcoin ecosystem.
There is much talk about decentralization in the Bitcoin space, and various attempts at creating decentralized exchanges to address this weakness.
Bisq is one solution built on pure P2P infrastructure: desktop software, Tor, local wallets, and no central accounts. While the transfer of national currency requires traditional payment channels like banks and payment processors, Bisq is not dependent on any particular one. The role of these payment channels is limited to what it should be: transferring national currency. That’s it—no censoring, confiscating, monitoring, or controlling your financial transactions.
Bisq is built for those who:
- Want to exchange a national currency such as dollars, euros, or yen for bitcoin.
- Want to exchange a wide range of alternative crypto currencies for bitcoin.
- Do not want to trust any exchange for holding their funds.
- Do not want to forfeit control or privacy to a central authority in order to trade with other individuals.
- Regard financial transactions as a form of private speech that should be protected from surveillance by banks, governments, and other institutions.
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