What do you think blockchain is? In this article, you’ll get to know what blockchain is, the different types of blockchains, how blockchains work, and the certain characteristics which every type of blockchain carries.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a digitally distributed form of an immutable ledger that enhances and facilitates transactions seamlessly by receiving data and interacting with certain protocols.

For a further breakdown of what blockchain is, certain phrases in the definition would be highlighted for a deeper understanding of the concept. Taking the words, “Digitally” and “Immutable ledger”.

 “Digitally” as the word implies means, that a blockchain receives information through electronic means therefore human interactions are not deeply needed for a blockchain to carry out its process. These processes include validating a transaction made by Mr. A to Mr. B(payments), tracking action in real-time, storing information, etc.

The word “Immutable ledger”, simply means, once data is stored on a blockchain, it is irreversible hence, data cannot be erased from the system.

Let’s say you’re asked to fill out a form for a class assignment and in the process of filling out the form there’s a misspelling in your name. 

Despite the error, it’s still possible to make changes to the misspelling. The possibility of being able to change this error makes the document mutable and flexible. But for an immutable ledger just like what blockchain works with your misspelling cannot be erased.

Leading us into the next section of the article, 

The Different Types of Blockchain.

Yes, there are different types of blockchain but that does not mean that some may be immutable while some might not be. They all carry that one identity and characteristic. 

But why then are there different types of blockchain? 

Blockchains can be created for different purposes, these purposes might be to carry the integrity of a particular organization, others might be for building purposes and some can be designed for both purposes.

There are “three” different types of blockchains which include,

1. Public Blockchains.

2. Private Blockchains.

3. Consortium Blockchains

4. Hybrid Blockchains.

  1. Public Blockchains: These are permissionless blockchains. This means that these types of blockchain can be accessed by anyone on the internet.

Accessed in the form of contributing to the blockchain through node validation and computer computation. 

Some cryptocurrencies are backed up with this type of concept. An example is Bitcoin. 

In Bitcoin, anyone can decide to be a node validator, anyone can also make changes to the code source. 

  1. Private Blockchain: Unlike Public blockchains, private blockchains are not permissionless therefore, people are allowed to contribute any selected before they can have access to the blockchain.

Let’s say, for instance, a hospital decides to store information of all registered patients on a blockchain.

 The hospital can decide to make the blockchain private. By making it private, the node validators, and anyone who can contribute to the blockchain must be a staff of the hospital. 

This makes it even safer than the public blockchain because, if attackers gain 51% access to the blockchain then it can be breached. But since it is a private blockchain, the chances remain low. 

  1. Consortium Blockchain: These types of blockchains are designed for just a limited number of persons or participants to get access to the blockchain. 

Here the transactions can decide to be shared publicly or privately but have to accommodate a particular number of persons.

Using the same example of a hospital, two hospitals can come together to design a consortium blockchain but still, they get to agree on the particular persons or group of persons who would gain access to the blockchain.

  1. Hybrid Blockchain: You might be familiar with digital computers, analog computers, and hybrid computers.

This is same for hybrid blockchains as they have both characteristics of private blockchains and public blockchains.

It can work in this concept whereby, some part of the blockchain can be kept private while some part of it can be kept public. 

Let’s say an enterprise working with a Hybrid blockchain decides to make contributions public to everyone but some concepts can be kept private yet, open to different sets of persons. 

How different types of Blockchain work. 

Let’s take it a bit slow here. 

 If you take the word “BLOCKCHAIN”, it can be divided into two different words. “BLOCK” and “CHAIN”

With this simple concept, you can deduce that information in this technology is stored in blocks and these blocks are connected in a chain-like format

Therefore on a blockchain, once transactions are made be it, payments or any action are recorded. These recordings are stored in the form of blocks. 

After the first transaction has been carried out and the first ever block(on a network) is formed on any blockchain, the following blocks recorded are connected to the first block using cryptographic hash functions.

The hash functions and alpha-numerics in which the second block is built are a derivative of the first block.

This makes it immutable because, before a transaction in block 137352 is altered, the preceding block has to be cracked and the chain continues till the first block is reached.

But since these alpha-numerics are constructed with a difficult concept, cracking of blocks is hence almost impossible. 

Before any block is added to the chain it needs to have been verified by the node validators depending on the consensus mechanism used by the blockchain. 

Characteristics Of Every Blockchain. 

Every blockchain has certain characteristics which they all exhibit which include, transparency, immutability, 

  1. Transparency: When transactions are verified on a blockchain. These transactions remain accessible to anyone. 

A friend has some Bitcoin but he claims to have sent it after you asked. You can easily use a blockchain explorer to verify the information hence, at every minute and second, you can see the transactions made by people in a blockchain. 

It doesn’t only apply to transactions. Also, let’s say for a hospital that records patient data(An example to show the real-life applications of blockchain). Once it’s recorded, it can be viewed by anyone to verify.

  1. Immutability: Just like explained in the first section, data cannot be changed. Hence, false information is hard to carry out.

Let’s say you send Bitcoin to a particular wallet address but you don’t want it to be known. You can’t do anything about it because after blocks are confirmed, they cannot be changed. 

And lastly, 

  1. Security: The security of every blockchain is most dependent on its decentralized nature. Blockchains work with a peer-to-peer mechanism whereby no one has overall control over it therefore centralization is completely eradicated. Hence, people can make payments and various transactions without distrust or the fear of anyone taking control of the network.

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