What are the differences between public and private blockchains? Ask an Expert!

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Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 59 seconds

Join our resident expert, Taylor Gerring, as he explores the differences between public and private blockchains. He dives into the differences between public and private blockchains, compares them, and ultimately answers which type of blockchain he expects to see in the future.

While public blockchains provide great transparency, private companies allow independent organizations to implement blockchain technology without giving up any privacy. Check out this video for all the similarities and differences between the types of chains! Or you can read through the discussion below!

Be sure to check out our What is a Blockchain guide if you want more information, and our other episodes of Ask an Expert for all those questions you need answered! And if you ever have any questions you want to ask an expert, contact us here!

Whats the difference between public and private blockchains?

The blockchains we are more familiar with today, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dash, are public blockchains in the sense that access is open to anyone. By contrast, private blockchains intend to restrict either participant or validator access.

Who would want to use a private blockchain?

Many private companies, including Disney and JP Morgan, have shown an interest in the potential of blockchain technology, but require greater control than that provided by public blockchains. Companies are looking to incorporate blockchain technology into the way they conduct business, ranging from accounting to record keeping. Obviously, private entities don’t want this information to be shared publicly, but they also see the advantages of moving towards blockchain technology. The middle ground that they have desired has led to the creation of private blockchains, allowing companies the benefit from the technology without giving up their autonomy.

But, why?

The reasons for this may be many. Perhaps they have a semi-trusted set of consortium members which require a difference style of consensus than Proof-of-Work. Or maybe the participants want to keep certain information private from the public internet. Regardless of the reason, there is still a powerful need for public blockchains to “anchor” data to a public timestamp. Even if NO OTHER details are shared, anchoring is a way to prove information or the state of some information exists without actually providing the information itself.

Okay, that makes sense… So is everyone using private blockchains now?

Similarly to how corporate intranets dominated the early days of the internet (and still drive a large portion of interactivity for some via VPN), there is a lot of interest in private blockchains to solve some of the immediate needs that public blockchains cannot yet provide.

That being said, the public internet, NOT PRIVATE INTRANETS, is where we conduct the vast majority of our daily business and have weird things like cat videos and pepe memes. For this reason, I’m a big believer in the value of a shared public internet, backed by blockchains.

So does that means that private blockchains will one day be useless and go away?

If intranets connected to the internet are any indication, the answer is a resounding “N.O.”! If blockchains are to remain a part of the internet as we know it, we will likely use a variety of application that leverage both private and public blockchain networks.


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