Implications of blockchain design models (Part 1)

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by Lumai Mubanga

The impact of chosen design models on blockchain operations.

Blockchain designing principles have direct implications on the way the blockchain will scale, operate and interact with users. To a larger extent, the chosen design perspective determines how many users can use the blockchain at a given time and how fast transactions can be processed.

In this article, we examine two design perspectives and their impact on how the blockchain platform designed from those perspectives operate.

Generic or non Generic

Blockchain platforms designed as generic platforms, in essence, implies that you can use the platform to develop applications for any industry. Non-generic platforms, on the other hand, are designed for a particular industry only or are focused on one aspect of business application. A very good example is bitcoin. Bitcoins are an example of a non-generic blockchain platform. Bitcoin is only used for transactions, the processing of the transactions of this particular cryptocurrency only. This explains why you cannot use bitcoins for anything else apart from transactions involving the currency.
Take another example; Corda blockchain. You cannot create any applications in other domain areas. The design of Corda is specific to the financial industry. The other one is Openchain, which is basically created for digital asset management and nothing else. In short, If a platform is specially designed for a particular industry, they will have specific features only fit for that industry. AS mentioned with regards Corda, it allows you to write programs that you can incorporate some of the legal expression because the financial industry is concerned with whether transactions follow the law. No wonder, they have features to allow users to write programs that can embed legal expression into the transactions.

Public or private

Another critical design model is what is referred to as permissionless or permissioned blockchain. Permissionless or public means that the blockchain is open for the public to freely join in without verifying their real identities. Permissionless, means that you don’t need to get permission in order to get into the blockchain. But as you might guess, this comes with its own risks. One of them is that unscrupulous individuals with bad motives can easily join, do havoc and leave at any time. Could this explain why bitcoins in earlier days was rocked with dark scandals of drugs and hacking incidents?

Another potential problem with permissionless blockchains is that since anyone can join in, the data on the blockchain will become visible to them and this may not be good if its company data that does not require public viewing. However, one implication of his design is that it supports higher scalability and adoption.

To enhance better control of user and information and ensure that only trusted clients are admitted and given access to the information on the blockchain, the ideas of permissioned blockchain design model was introduced. In this type of permissioned blockchain, the clients can only join the blockchain after they pass a verification process. And of course, not everybody can join the blockchain freely without any verification, so you can treat this kind of blockchain as one which is not fully decentralized.

Thus, the adopted design models can have both positive and negative implications, ranging from types of applications that can be built, scalability and privacy issues.

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