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What’s the difference between a public and private blockchain?

Blockchains vary in how open they are to people using, processing, and building on them. Bitcoin is open to anyone, while Ripple is permissioned. People like permissionless blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum because anyone can build on them and they benefit from the same network effects an open Internet makes possible. People like permissioned blockchains because they are easier and faster to update, they can be optimized for specific purposes, and it is easier to comply with both existing regulations and user expectations.

Not all blockchains are the same, particularly when it comes to who has access. In this article, we will discuss the concept of public or permissionless blockchains v. private or permissioned blockchains.

Permissionless Blockchains

One of the most striking features of Bitcoin is that anyone with an internet connection can use it. No one needs to register anywhere or provide identification: they can easily create a bitcoin address and convince someone to send money to it.

Anyone can also become a miner to create new blocks and contribute to the network: all one needs is the hardware, an internet connection, and a decent amount of technical knowledge to set up the miner. Similarly, anyone can download the entire blockchain to become a full node, to analyze it, or simply for novelty. The underlying code is open-source, widely published, and hotly debated. Anyone can build services on it, including wallets, payment processors, and even other blockchains.


Mercredi 31 Août 2016