Thanks everybody for the thoughts. I'll answer questions individually when I have a moment -- weekends are for the family so I just get a little time in the morning before everybody wakes up.
I see what you mean about the centralization issue.
But to be clear: The only person that would need to get an API key would be if another trading site wished to open and trade with people on this proposed site.
Perhaps the Bitcoin community would want this to stay with each site as an island unto itself and I can appreciate that. But when I look at the markets we know -- US equities and the internet advertising market -- and I apply the principles of those "exchanges" onto BitCoin, those are the differences I see. And the assumption is, Bitcoin will look more like that as it grows up.
Here's the inherent risk of creating such a platform and the reason why direct access to it would have to be carefully granted:
If somebody came along as a new trading site operator and got permission to trade with counterparties on other trading sites thru said platform, they could quite easily just invent users and add account balance with a SQL script and then "trade" on the open market and at the end of the day SiteA, SiteB, and SiteC would all settle their business for that day with this NewSite and they'd all transfer thousands of dollars into the site and then -- poof. Gone. They cash out and have just robbed the platform.
It's the same reason very few agencies (relatively) can trade directly onto, say, the NYSE or Nasdaq.
So if people are reflexively against the kind if community-policing you'd need of new trading sites, then maybe we just keep it as every-site-as-an-island.
Truth of why I'm considering this is that it scratches a hobbyist itch (I'm just generally more interested in this market than building another ad tracking system). And because even at the low surchage per-trade we'd charge, I think the Bitcoin market (black friday nothwithstanding) is going to blow up and we could make a lot of money. And if it doesn't, since we already have a lot of these types of tools developed to make it easy to build this site, there's not all that much risk.
Though to answer one question upfront: I don't think we'd be able to base this business onshore in the US. But we have a brilliant attorney so we'll see what she says.
And it's worth noting that she's got veto on all of this. If she doesn't feel she can shelter us and our existing business, well, we won't risk jailtime over this idea