A blockchain is a specific type of database responsible for storing information about digital assets transactions. Also, blockchains for most cryptocurrencies are run in a decentralized manner meaning no single individual has full control. In this regard, transactions can be transparently viewed by all users. In this article, we will explain what are public blockchains, how it works, how it differs from the private variety and a list of public blockchain examples.
Blockchain is not just a database to store monetary transactions. Today, it has proved to be a reliable way of storing data in other sectors, including healthcare, property, education and in supply chains. Also there are two main categories of blockchains: public and private. Note that this excludes traditional databases or distributed ledger technology often thought to be blockchains.
A public blockchains is an open-source or permissionless network where all the information is available in the public domain. Since any party can view, read, or write data on the blockchain, no single person has control over the data in a public blockchain.
The two major characteristics of public blockchains are:
- Immutable. This means that a public blockchain cannot be altered or changed. If an entry is made in the blockchain and verified, it cannot be deleted or modified.
- Decentralized. A group of nodes (devices such as computers that contain the full copy of the transaction history in a blockchain) maintains a public blockchain rather than a single user. Since the framework has no governing authority, anyone can access a public blockchain from the web and store their assets there.
These two factors make public blockchains transparent, efficient, and secure. Public blockchains are highly adopting in public sectors, such as healthcare and education. In the case of healthcare, public blockchains are, for example, is using to store a record of all the operations in a health institution. Health practitioners and other professionals in the institution may also add data about patients’ details and the cost of treating certain illnesses. This data viewed by other doctors, professionals, patients and any other person on the public blockchain.
List of public blockchains
Here it is a list of public blockchains:
- Cryptocurrency blockchains. Allow mining and exchange of cryptocurrencies.
- Financial blockchain. Suited for financial institutions open to the public. Used as financial networking platforms.
- Enterprise-grade blockchains. Used by enterprise companies open to the public and those that want to share their affairs and get insights on a cross-sector level.
- Health care blockchains. Store data about patients’ healthcare and all the operations of a health institution. Accessible to both patients and medical practitioners.
- Educational-based blockchains. Used by learning institutions to share learning materials and other relevant information about the institution. Accessible by learners and instructors and the general public looking to know more about the institution.
- Music blockchains. Connect artists and labels with a record of their rights.
- Voting blockchains. Stores information pertaining to a given voting process. Moreover, used to enhance transparency in the entire process by availing related data to the public.
Private vs public blockchain
So lets’ talk about private vs public blockchain. Unlike a public blockchain, the private blockchain is an invitation-only platform govern by a single entity. Since the governing entity in a private blockchain can freely add or remove nodes, scalability is easier than in a public blockchain.
While the data in a public blockchain is available to the general public, that of a private blockchain is confidential and available to designated people. This means that a private blockchain is more secure and high performing than a public blockchain.
Unlike public blockchains that are used by firms offering services to the general public (B2C players) like health institutions, private blockchains are used in the corporate sector (B2B players) where details need to be shared with a limited audience.
It should, however, that private and public blockchains are not competitors. Moreover, each blockchain has distinct roles in business and firms, as seen above.
Public blockchain examples
- Bitcoin. A decentralized way of exchanging cryptocurrency, including bitcoin, without intermediaries.
- Etherium. A digital asset blockchain also used by enterprise companies to store information. There is also a private blockchain version for Etherium.
- Litecoin. This is a public blockchain using for mining and exchanging cryptocurrencies.
- Spotify. Music database used to correlate artists with license agreements.
- Siemens. A platform where users produce, consume and purchase power with a transactive energy platform.
- SimplyVital Health. A public database that allows patients to access, share and move their healthcare data.
- BASF. A livestock-based database that allows users to understand the whole production process from the farm to the fridge.
Hopefully, you now understand what a public blockchain is and why it is important for firms, institutions and businesses now more than ever. Even at a time when the security and privacy solutions for public blockchains implement, the decision to go for either of the blockchains seems quite clear. Depending on your company’s functioning, you should adopt a blockchain, either public or private, that suits you best.