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Are permissioned ledgers the future of blockchain for business?

Are permissioned ledgers the future of blockchain for business?


Corporations and governments won’t work with open platforms. Permissioned ledgers are likely to play a key role in the adoption of blockchain technology.


Bitcoin, the original blockchain, is an open network. Anyone can join it, use it, run a full node, or start a mining node. There are no restrictions of who gets to be a part of the network.


That’s great for transparency and trust, but it has its drawbacks. Since anyone can use the network, malicious activities are possible, from DDoS to 51% attacks. And of course, bitcoin can be used for criminal purposes; no one can stop you sending bitcoin to anyone else.


For regular individuals, this is a price worth paying. Having a blockchain and form of money that is free from interference is hugely important. And form of control by companies or governments increases the risk of intervention, and that could mean users not being able to access their funds. So open blockchains are here to stay: they’re just too valuable to expect them to go away, and it’s not possible for regulators to shut them down. Similarly, small businesses are happy with open blockchains, which offer greater transparency and auditability than their current centralised providers.


But corporations and government aren’t happy with that. They need greater reliability and network stability, higher throughput, and predictability for fees and other properties.


Permissioned blockchains can deliver this by keeping the network tight and only allowing approved actors to use it. By running a small number of approved nodes, it’s possibly to avoid most of the uncertainty of open blockchains, ensure greater network stability, and avoid the need for fees. Depending on how the network is structured, you can also prevent bad actors from using it, or kick them off for serious offences.


There are already various permissioned ledger solutions out there, many of them based on existing blockchain technology. We can expect more of these to arise as governments and corporations look for infrastructure partners. 


In most cases, the regular crypto community won’t benefit from these – there won’t be ICOs, and the tokens won’t be designed to increase in value. But there may be other ways in which it’s good for the crypto sector.


Overall, it could be good for crypto just as a way of raising awareness – just like Facebook’s Libra has brought Bitcoin into front and centre for Congress. There may also be open blockchain platforms that launch permissioned functionality. Waves Enterprise, for example, will allow entities to launch permissioned networks of their own, securing them on the main Waves chain and bringing additional demand to the WAVES token that powers the open blockchain.


Then there are initiatives like VPLedger, which is designed from the ground up for businesses use. This includes KYC as a mandatory condition of entry for every user, and a network of a couple of dozen nodes. However, the project still has a commitment to decentralise its governance completely, meaning it could prove a valuable addition to a future decentralised economy and become a host for many interesting projects.

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