No matter which industry you work in, you’ve probably heard about blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Blockchain development has also become a popular choice for companies because it’s transparent, resistant to changes, and secure. It can even lower their expenses regarding financial or data transfers. For streamlining supply chains, simplifying trade, or securing financial transactions, blockchain sounds to be ideal. Nevertheless, the growing number of platforms only makes choosing one even more confusing. This article will help you choose a blockchain platform that will change your business.
If you want to start using blockchain in your business as well or build a digital product with crypto to attract more users but can’t make head or tail of how cryptocurrency works and which platform you should even use, this article is for you. But if you are looking for hiring developers who are familiar with a specific platform or simply want to be up to date with the newest trends, you’ll find this blog post useful as well.
In this article, we will cover the basics of how blockchain works, and what should you keep an eye on when researching your options. We’ll also share a list of blockchains with the most popular platforms nowadays.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is copied and distributed across the entire network. The blockchain network is pretty similar to a regular peer-to-peer network: each computer in the network is connected to the others, has the same rights as other computers, and works both as the client and the server.
The way it stores the data is what makes blockchains unique though.
Each transaction is written as a separate record (block) which is then added linearly to the previous entries – creating a chain. Every user in the network then verifies the newly added records. If most of the users agree that the data is correct, it is added to the ledger. Then, the new record is shared between all other nodes in the network, ensuring that everyone has the newest version of the ledger. After the record is cryptographically dated and shared, it’s also impossible to edit any information inside the record, making them virtually tamper-proof – and far more securer than any other method of storing data.
93% of the financial experts said they believe blockchain and cryptocurrency can be immensely valuable for companies and that they pretty much already reached mainstream adoption. And It’s easy to see why companies among all sorts of industries are adopting this technology, whether going for open-source blockchain or enterprise blockchain:
- It helps prevent fraud and unauthorized activity by creating a record that can’t be altered and is encrypted end-to-end.
- Rather than using a single server, data is stored across a network of computers, making it difficult for hackers to access the data.
- The same information is visible to all network participants with permission access at the same time, which ensures full transparency.
- Every step of an asset’s journey is documented in the blockchain and visible to all users.
- Documenting all essential details on a blockchain eliminates the need to exchange paper documents, making transactions faster and more efficient.
- Smart contracts enable automated transactions by automatically triggering the next step in the process once pre-specified conditions are met. This eliminates the need for human or third-party intervention and boosts business efficiency.
Points to review when looking for the best blockchain platform for your business
Blockchains are already used with success in several industries. This technology has been implemented in finances, healthcare, supply chain and manufacturing, real estate, e-commerce, and many other fields – and the list keeps growing. For example, just in the agriculture and food industry blockchain will generate $1.48 billion by 2026.
The demand for blockchain technology also means that the number of available platforms has grown significantly. Currently, there are at least 1,000 blockchains networks and around 12000 different virtual coins out there.
As if learning how blockchain works weren’t complicated enough, you also need to figure out which platform should you use, especially since they have different features and purposes. To make the research a bit easier for you though, we created a list of things you should check before jumping on the blockchain bandwagon.
Actual platform’s speed.
The blockchain scalability rate shows how many TPS (transactions per second) a given network can handle. And the number varies from platform to platform: Bitcoin can handle 7 transactions per second, but Ethereum (thanks to the smart contracts) can handle 25. Litecoin meanwhile can handle 56, Cardano 250, Ripple 1500, and Solana even 29,000.
But do you actually need that much? That depends on what kind of data you want the network to process. If your company is working on developing a payment software or, let’s say, a high-transaction gambling app, then a higher TPS platform will be far more efficient here. But for a simple data management system, a platform with a low TPS might be more than enough.
You should also consider that the blazing fast processing speed might come at the expense of other aspects, like platform security.
Even though all blockchains are based on the same technology, what features they have can vary greatly. For example, let’s compare Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple. Bitcoin is mainly used as a form of virtual, decentralized currency. Ethereum is more focused on creating smart contracts that allow companies to automate business processes and build decentralized apps. Ripple meanwhile was invented as a currency transfer technology that aims at making cross-border monetary transactions easier and more affordable, similar to SWIFT.
Since their main purpose is so different, that obviously means that the way they process data, the time it takes them to do so, and the features they can offer vary wildly as well. That makes researching what type of blockchain network you might need for your business and what features it should offer even more important.
For instance, not all platforms support Smart Contracts – so if that’s a feature you need, make sure the platform you are considering supports it.
Network adoption rate and the community around it
It is also important to take a look at how many brands are using a given network, how many users it has, and if there is a community centered around the blockchain network. The reason here is simple – the bigger the community around the network, the better the chance you’ll be able to find the support you need in case of any issues.
Plus, technology and requirements change over time. So the more people use a given platform, the more likely it is it will be regularly updated and that all potential bugs or security issues will be patched.
By default, blockchains are created to be a much more secure method to store and share data. That doesn’t mean though that you don’t need to worry about how the platform keeps the data or assume that every platform is equally secure. In fact, you should triple-check the security features each platform offers, especially if your company handles sensitive or private information.
By checking the cryptographic methods the platform uses, how the records are verified in the network, how frequently the platform is updated, and how to verify the users, you can ensure the safety of your finances and data.
Public Or Private
As you search for a platform to join, you should also consider what type of blockchain would work best for your company. There are two main types of blockchain: private (or enterprise) blockchain and public blockchain.
Private blockchains are often used in large companies as it allows them to limit who can participate in them, what data they have access to, and what transactions they can initiate. So before you can join a private network, you will need an invitation. Before being granted access to the network, you’ll also need to be validated either by the network administrator or by a set of rules established by the administrators. That way, only the employees or partners of the company owning the ledger can join, read and add data to the ledger.
The owner of the blockchain can also override, edit or replace the data or even delete the unnecessary entries – something that’s not possible on public ones.
Another difference is that enterprise blockchains are much faster than public ones. Because they require fewer users to reach consensus than public ones, the transactions and activities in private blockchains are processed and validated very quickly.
Public blockchains, on the other hand, focus on participation and transparency. Anyone can join a public network and take part in validating network transactions – and have the same rights as other users. In addition, the software code is open-source and available to all users as well. Another benefit of public blockchains is that each user is anonymous – to prove their identity, they use cryptographic code unique to each user known as public and private keys.
When choosing a blockchain type for your company, you’ll want to compare the pros and cons of each type and discuss it with your team. Reaching out to experts to help you choose the best type for your needs is also a good idea.
A number of nodes
Nodes are an essential part of the blockchain networks as they keep the whole network secure and functional. Each node (meaning simply a device connected to the network) is responsible for verifying and accepting the data into the blockchain and ensuring that all nodes are following the network rules. That means that technically, the more nodes are in the network, the harder it would be to manipulate the data in the blockchain or the node itself. The main problem here is though that the bigger the network, the longer it takes for a transaction to be confirmed and the consensus between the nodes to be achieved. That’s especially a problem with the most popular, open-to public blockchain networks that are made of thousands of nodes – they might be secure but their performance leaves a lot to be desired.
Enterprise blockchains are typically working much faster as there’s only a handful of earlier verified nodes that are needed to accept each transaction but that comes at the cost of slightly lower security. So here you need to think about what is more important for you – if you need the network to verify and store transactions as quickly as possible, then an enterprise network is the better option. But if you prefer the blockchain to be more secure rather than faster or you wish to use a truly decentralized network, then public blockchain systems would be far better here.
Which blockchain platform to choose?
Blockchain is sometimes described as a “trustless” network. But that’s not because none of the other users trust each other – the opposite, actually. They don’t need to trust each other. The blockchain offers enhanced security, full data transparency, and traceability, and (in the case of private blockchains) also control over who can join the network and view data. That means that everyone inside the network can be sure that the information they get is verified and accurate and there’s little risk that someone will try to tamper with the data.
And that part doesn’t change no matter whether you want to build your own enterprise blockchain network from scratch or use one of the many available platforms and still enjoy the many benefits of blockchains. However, while designing their own network worked very well for many companies, choosing one of the existing platforms can offer a lot of benefits as well, starting from:
- Much lower costs (according to our research, the blockchain app development cost starts at $5,000 and can go as high as $200,000. For the existing platforms you only need to pay a fee.)
- Far faster time to implement the blockchain technology in your company
- You don’t need to worry about updating, maintaining, or bug fixing the platform (which would require either a lot of experience on your side or regular help from blockchain developers)
- You can count on the community support and help if you have any issues or questions about the chosen platform (with custom ones, you need to rely on your own skills or the development company that created the network).
- Existing platforms regularly have new features, tools and capabilities added – either by the blockchain owners or the community members
But before you can take advantage of all those (and more) benefits coming from using an existing blockchain, you need to know what options even you have at your disposal. Out of over 1000 platforms with many different capabilities, which one should you pick?
To give you some insight on this topic, we have compiled a list of the top blockchain platforms currently – both public ones and those dedicated to enterprises.
Ethereum is one of the oldest and, thanks to its popularity with software developers, one of the most popular blockchain platforms.
And while the Ethereum coins can be used as an alternative currency, Ethereum is more often used as a platform to create smart contracts as well as build decentralized applications (dapps). Smart contracts are the basis of Ethereum – they are code-based automation programs stored on the Ethereum that execute a given function once certain conditions are met.
The Ethereum platform currently uses the PoW (Proof of Work) consensus method, which is comparatively slower in terms of speed. Therefore, Ethereum’s TPS is lower than other platforms. They are planning to switch to Proof of Stake in 2022 though, which should boost the platform’s capabilities.
Linux Hyperledger Fabric is an open-source, enterprise-grade permissioned blockchain development framework for developing solutions and applications. Fabric uses a modular architecture to let complex systems and components work together as plug-and-play, so it can create large, complex blockchain solutions. It also provides a vast library of plug-and-play components that can be added as needed by users.
Hyperledger fabric network is permissioned, which means that all participants must be verified and authenticated before they can join the blockchain.
Another popular blockchain platform focused on finance is Ripple. Due to its transparency, fast response time, and low transaction costs, hundreds of financial institutions (like American Express or Santander) rely on it. Its main purpose is to enable global, cross-border payments with minimal charges, thanks to its own currency called “XRP or Ripple,” which has become a popular cryptocurrency like Ether and Bitcoin.
As it’s built on advanced blockchain technology and uses a bit different consensus method than other platforms, XRP is more scalable and faster than other blockchains, as the XRP transactions are confirmed in around four to five seconds. Currently, Ripple also works on adding smart contract features to their platform.
Stellar is another solution designed for financial industries, as it allows domestic and international transfers of digital currency to fiat money. However, it has one unique characteristic – it’s completely decentralized. Developers and contributors have complete control over the network, which allows them to build affordable, scalable, and versatile banking solutions. It’s also one of the fastest blockchains, as it can confirm a transaction time in 3 – 5 seconds, and it can also process 1000 transactions in the same time.
Originally created for use in financial institutions, Corda has since been adapted to serve other industries, including healthcare, insurance, and digital assets. While it is a type of permissioned blockchain platform, it works a bit differently than the rest. Even though it uses peer-to-peer distributed ledger technology, it does not batch multiple transactions into a block but processes all exchanges in real-time. It doesn’t use a cryptocurrency or built-in token either.
What also sets it apart from the rest is that, unlike other permissioned blockchain networks, Corda allows multiple parties to coexist and work together within the same network system. The platform also supports the smart contract feature, meaning you can write and deploy smart contracts on the Corda blockchain by using either Java or Kotlin.
Solana is a blockchain platform designed specifically to host decentralized applications, similar to Ethereum and Cardano, two of the most popular dApp blockchains.
This platform has gained traction because it offers two features that the Ethereum blockchain has yet to offer: faster operation and lower transaction fees. Solana utilizes a PoS (proof of stake) blockchain rather than a PoW (proof of work) blockchain, making it more environmentally friendly than Ethereum and Bitcoin. But more importantly, it’s also one of the fastest blockchain platforms in the industry, with an average of 3000 TPS, through the Solana team claims it can reach even 65000 TPS which would bring Solana to the speed of Visa cards.
The global blockchain market will reach $67.4 billion by 2026. And with blockchain technology evolving at a rapid pace, surely the industry will find plenty of new ways to use the technology in business. But with so many platforms available right now, companies need to spend a bit of their time analyzing their options, so they can pick the right platform. That’s especially important looking at how many purposes and features the blockchain platforms can have.
Our shortlist of key research points and top platforms should be helpful here. But if you still have doubts or are at a loss about which platform you should even choose, how about reaching out to our team for help?